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Glads aim to make some waves in softball


Theyre off to a 4-0 start as they rally around veteran pitchers Nena Dudley and Megan Kirchem

Gladstone High School’s softball team has a veteran lineup and Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier expects big things from his Gladiators this spring.

“In my seven years at Gladstone, this is one of the best, if not the best team I’ve had,” Mortier said. “They’ve got it all, talent, dedication and attitude. They are very hard workers and they really get after it. We are supposed to start practices at 3:45 p.m. and they are all out and at it at 3:30 p.m. every day.”

The Gladiators return seven starters from last year’s team that went 12-3 in the Tri-Valley Conference and tied Madras for the conference crown.

Juniors Nena Dudley and Megan Kirchem, who shared duties in the circle and at shortstop last season, are back.

Dudley last year was named the TVC “Pitcher of the Year” and Kirchem made the TVC second all-star team for her play at pitcher.

The Gladiators also return a first-team all-conference catcher in Ashlee Muller, a four-year starter behind the plate.

Junior Erica Ward earned first-team all-league honors as a utility player last year, and Mortier says she’ll likely help the Gladiators out in multiple positions again this year.

Sophomore Andra Breshears, a second-team all-league selection as a freshman, returns to start in the outfield.

Junior Meghan Winkle, a second-team all-league selection at second base in 2012, returns to start at first base this year.

Sophomore Molly Webster returns to start in the outfield, where she garnered second-team all-league recognition as a freshman.

The Gladiators have gained another talented player in junior Julia Schumaker, who has left the track team to play softball.

“She’ll start for us at second base or in the outfield, and I’ve got her batting clean-up,” Mortier said. “She’s a good athlete and she’s got good softball skills.”

Rounding out this year’s varsity roster are: juniors Kayla Cavitt (outfield) and Ashley Hale (outfield), sophomore Melisa Campos (third base), and freshmen Kennedy Coy (outfield/catcher) and Katarina Kerr (outfield/shortstop).

The Gladiators have been impressive in early preseason, going 4-0, with wins over Scappoose (3-1), Central (11-1 in six innings), and a sweep of Astoria (10-5 in five innings and 13-0 in five innings) in a doubleheader with the Fishermen.

Dudley pitched at Scappoose, striking out 10 in a two-hitter. Lexi Courtney had a lead-off home run in the second inning for the Indians’ only score.

The Gladiators played error-free ball behind Dudley, and they scored two runs in the top of the seventh to earn the win.

Dudley got things started in the seventh with a one-out single, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Muller drew a walk, and Schumaker followed with a two-run, two-out single to right-center.

Kirchem pitched in the six-inning game with Central, striking out seven, while allowing just three hits and no earned runs.

The Gladiators rattled their bats for 10 hits, led by Dudley (2-for-4, 3-run double), Muller (2-for-3, two doubles), Kerr (double, two runs scored) and Winkle (2/for-3, two runs scored).

The Gladiators took no hostages in last Friday’s doubleheader with the Astoria Fishermen.

Dudley struck out 11 and walked four in a no-hitter in the 10-0 five-inning win; Kirchem struck out 13 and walked one in a one-hitter in the 13-0 five-inning shutout. The Gladiators stung the ball for 23 hits in the two games.

“We had eight-of-nine batters get hits in each game,” said Mortier, noting that his Gladiators are batting better than .350 as a team in their first four games.

Schumaker (3-for-3, RBI-double, two stolen bases) headed up the offensive onslaught in the 10-0 win.

Muller (3-for-4, 3 RBI), Dudley (3-run double) and Kirchem (2-for-3, 3 RBI, 2 runs) starred in the 13-0 blowout.

The Gladiators host Cascade tonight at 6, and they play at Tillamook on Friday.

League play begins on Tuesday, April 2, when Gladstone plays Estacada on the road.