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Wolves get their bats going in high gear

Softball: Natalie Taylor hits for the cycle and Janelle Cromie also homers as Tualatin beats Tigard
by: DAN BROOD, A HERO’S WELCOME — Tualatin senior Natalie Taylor (10) is greeted at home plate by her Timberwolf teammates after she hit a sixth-inning home run. The homer completed the cycle for Taylor.

TIGARD - On Friday, Natalie Taylor made her debut as the Timberwolves' leadoff hitter.

She may end up staying in that spot in the batting order for a long, long time now.

Taylor, a senior on the Tualatin High School softball team, hit for the cycle in her first time in the leadoff role, helping the Wolves score a 9-1 win over rival Tigard in a Pacific Conference game played at Tigard High School.

'It was my first game battling leadoff in school ball, and I guess it worked,' Taylor said with a smile after the game. 'This is a big win for us. It's Tigard - and it's always competitive. And we lost to them here last year, so to come back and win here this year is big.'

With the win, Tualatin improved to 1-2 in league play while moving to 6-7 on the season at that point.

'This is so nice,' said Timberwolf junior Janelle Cromie, who had three hits, including a home run, in the win. 'Of course, we wanted to beat Tigard, and we didn't want to be 0-3 in league, so we're really happy.'

Tigard dropped to 0-3 in league contests and

to 8-4 on the season at that point with the setback.

'We're off to a rough start to say the least,' Tigard coach Connie Jolley said. 'The good news is that we're capable of more than we're showing. It's time for that to happen.'

Tualatin had a big day at the plate in the victory on Friday, pounding out 11 hits as a team. Taylor had the biggest day of all the Wolves. She led off the top of the first inning with a triple, she singled in the second inning and she doubled to the fence in left field in the fourth. That left her just a home run short of the cycle when she came to the plate to lead off the top of the sixth inning.

'I wasn't even thinking about it,' Taylor said.

Nevertheless, she stepped up and completed the cycle by hitting a line-drive home run over the fence in left field.

'I got my pitch and went with it,' Taylor said. 'That was nice. It felt good.'

For the game, Taylor went 4-for-4 at the plate with four runs scored and an RBI. Cromie also had a big day, going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Her home run was a two-run shot over the fence in center field in the fourth inning.

'That felt so good,' Cromie said. 'I've been in a hitting slump, so that felt awesome. It felt good coming off the bat.'

Tualatin, in Friday's contest, grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Taylor, following her leadoff triple, scored the game's first run on a one-out RBI single by junior Jordan Skinner.

Skinner scored later in the inning, on an RBI single by Kirstie Lerum, to push the margin to 2-0.

The Wolves added three more runs in the second inning. Skinner had the big hit of the frame with a two-run double that brought home both Brittany Reichard and Taylor. Cromie singled in Skinner for Tualatin's third run of the inning, making the score 5-0.

Tualatin scored two more times in the fourth - with both runs coming on Cromie's home run - and one more run in each the sixth and seventh innings as it upped the margin to 9-0.

Tigard, not giving up, got on the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Senior Erin Otto got things started with a one-out single to left. She moved to second on a groundout by freshman Katie Aden and then scored on a single by freshman Chelsea Biglow.

'Erin Otto did a great job coming off the bench,' Jolley said. 'She scored our run and had three great at-bats.'

Senior Bethany Dempster picked up the pitching win for Tualatin. The right-hander, pitching a complete game, gave up one run on five hits while striking out four and walking one.

'Beth pitched an awesome game,' Cromie said.

Skinner had two hits for Tualatin in the win while Lerum and Rachel Manhart each had one hit.

'We've worked really, really hard with the bats,' Tualatin coach Dan Roisom said. 'I couldn't be prouder of the girls and how hard they've worked.'

For Tigard, Biglow had three hits, including a stand-up double in the fourth inning. Junior Heidi Pizer also doubled for the Tigers and Otto had the team's other hit.

'We need to play more as a team,' Jolley said. 'That counts for a lot.'

On Monday, Tigard fell 6-2 to Canby in a league game played at Canby High School.

Tualatin was rained out on both Monday and Tuesday in its scheduled game with Newberg.

The Tigers were slated to host Newberg and Tualatin was to be home to face league-leading McMinnville on Wednesday. Results weren't available when the Times went to press.

Tigard and Tualatin will both be back in action on Friday. Tigard will host McMinnville and Tualatin travels to Forest Grove for 5 p.m. games.