The Pioneers get a fantastic game from pitcher Courtney Brown but can't muster up enough offense vs. the Gophers

Sandy softball, continuing to struggle offensively, lost to Gresham 6-4 in 10 innings Friday April 13 at Sandy High School.

Sandy (1-4 in conference, 4-10 overall) squandered an amazing effort by junior Courtney Brown, who pitched a complete game and struck out 13 in the loss.

'Courtney pitched a great game,' Sandy coach Laurie Smallwood said. 'This is a tough one to lose, especially the way we battled back.'

Gresham (4-1, 9-4) scored one in the first inning when Ashley Billingsley pounded a two-out triple to right field, scoring Charlie Neilan, who had singled earlier.

The Gophers increased their lead to four in the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Neilan and Britny Weissenbuehler, followed by a single from Billingsley and a passed ball.

'(After the fifth) the girls seemed to be a little down, so we had a little chat,' Smallwood said. 'I told them you play seven innings, so keep battling - and it was still anybody's game.'

The Pioneers responded in the bottom of the fifth.

After two walks and a hit batter, Gresham head coach Kevin Hart pulled starter Billingsley with one out and the bases loaded. Sandy junior Brittany Isaacs singled to center off Gresham's Becca Moen scoring two.

Freshman Kyza White-Cannon followed with another single scoring one and Smallwood, coaching third base, made the decision to send Isaacs home off the single. But she was thrown out at home plate.

'We had the weak part of our lineup coming up and I thought (sending the runner), I tried to manufacture the run,' Smallwood said. 'I'd send her again and she would probably score nine out of 10 times.'

Trailing by one run in the seventh, Sandy was down to its last out with freshman Heather Skinner on second after singling and being sacrificed to second. Issacs hit a single to center field, scoring Skinner on a close play at the plate. That sent the game into extra-innings.

'The girls were really battling in the seventh,' Smallwood said. 'They never gave up and they battled to get the tying run across.'

Sandy had a chance to win the game in the eighth, with runners at second and third and two outs. Skinner smacked a hard line drive up the middle that Gresham shortstop Stephanie Guenther dove to grab out of the air and end the Pioneers rally.

In the tenth inning, with a runner on second, Gresham scored two runs off back-to-back singles and a wild pitch to seal the victory.

'We are getting better and we're still battling,' Smallwood said. 'Early miscues continue to kill us but if we can get our defense to where we are playing for seven innings, we are going to be tough to beat.'

Smallwood said Sandy, which has lost three straight and four of its last five, will continue to improve and work hard as conference play continues.

'The girls are right where I thought they would be at this time,' Smallwood said. 'I just try and keep their heads in the game and get them past (the mistakes) and they are staying positive. We are finally starting to hit the ball and we'll come around.'

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