Ranked No. 1 in the state, the Gladiators could make a run deep into the playoffs, if they bring their A game

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Gladstone sophomore infielder Melisa Campos guns down a runner headed for first during last Fridays 10-0 shutout of 2013 Tri-Valley Conference champion Molalla. The Gladiators dealt the Indians their only two losses in league this spring.It was a Jekyll and Hyde week for Gladstone High School’s softball team last week, and Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier is hopeful that the troubled Mt. Hyde has made his last appearance of the 2013 season as the Gladiators gear up for the Class 4A state playoffs.

“I think we have a good shot at going a ways in the playoffs, if we play well,” Mortier said. “The girls have proven they can win on the road and they are undefeated at home. They’ve played really well this season, except for one game and two innings.”

Last week was a puzzle to Mortier.

“We played our best game of the year on Monday [an 11-1 win over North Marion] and we played our worst game of the season Wednesday [a 6-4 loss at La Salle],” Mortier said. “Then we came back on Friday [a 10-0 win over Molalla] and played great again. Friday’s game was probably our second-best game of the year, next to Monday’s.”

The Gladiators (23-3, 12-3) enter the state playoffs ranked the top Class 4A team in the state, their only losses in an otherwise perfect season a 3-0 loss at Madras on April 5, a 3-2 loss at Molalla on April 29, and last week’s 6-4 loss at La Salle.

The Gladiators finished second to fourth-ranked Molalla (18-5, 13-2) in league, dealing the Tri-Valley Conference champion Indians their only losses in league play, 7-1 on April 15 and 10-0 in five innings last Friday. Last week’s rout of Molalla ended an Indian win string at 10 games.

The Gladiators begin the state playoffs on Wednesday, May 22, when they host a first-round game of the state playoffs. They have a practice game with Class 6A Oregon City at 5 p.m. this Thursday, at Oregon City.

Sporting a .354 team batting average, Gladstone enters postseason play as one of the top offensive teams in the state. The Gladiators also have two very good pitchers in juniors Megan Kirchem and Nena Dudley. Kirchem (13-2) has 123 strikeouts in 90-2/3 innings and a 0.39 ERA; Dudley (10-1) has 131 strikeouts in 73 innings and a 0.58 ERA.

The Gladiators were at the top of their game in last week’s 11-1 win over North Marion. They crushed the ball for 17 hits in the six-inning game and played error-free defense behind pitcher Megan Kirchem (5 strikeouts, 5 hits, no walks).

“We hit the ball the best we have all year,” said Mortier. “And we played excellent defense. North Marion can hit the ball, but we were right there, and we made the plays.”a

Nena Dudley headed up the offensive onslaught with four hits in four at bats and two RBI. Julia Schumaker (3-for-4, double) and Andra Breshears (3-for-3, 2 runs) both stung the ball for three hits. Kat Kerr (2-for-4), Meghan Winkle (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Melisa Campos (2-for-4, double, 2 RBI) sparked the offense with two hits apiece.

Leading 2-0, the Gladiators put the game away in the fifth frame, scoring five runs on five hits, two walks and a wild pitch. Schumaker, Kerr, Campos, Dudley and Kirchem all hit safely in the big inning.

The Gladiators committed three errors and gave up five unearned runs in last week’s 6-4 loss to their cross-town rivals.

La Salle scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull out the win. Mortier said that Mackenzie Cook reached on an overthrow at first base with two down. Averi Johnson (3-for-4) singled to left, and Paige Bell followed with a first-pitch, two-run home run to straight-away centerfield to gain the 17th-ranked Falcons the upset victory.

Loryn Williams pitched for La Salle, striking out 11, walking one and giving up seven hits.

“She got us with her change,” Mortier said. “It was pretty deadly.”

Williams also helped the Falcons out on offense, with a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth.

Kirchem pitched for Gladstone in the loss, striking out 14, walking one and allowing six hits.

The Gladiators were all business in last Friday’s game with Molalla.

Kirchem struck out 11, walked one and scattered four hits in five innings, and she was supported by error-free defensive play.

The Gladiators hammered out 13 hits, led by Schumaker (3-for-3, 2-run triple, 3 runs scored) and Ashlee Muller (3-for-3, 3 RBI, double).

Leading 4-0, the Gladiators put the game away in the third frame, scoring five runs on singles by Campos, Winkle, Kirchem and Muller; a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Molly Webster; a two-run triple by Schumaker; and a walk.

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