Gladstone coeds rebound from their first loss with convincing wins over Sweet Home and Astoria

by: JAIME VALDEZ - MEGAN KIRCHEMHigh school softball teams around the state are learning that you don’t want to mess with the Gladstone Gladiators this season.

The Class 4A Gladiators tasted their first defeat, losing to Hood River, the second-ranked team in Class 5A, 5-3 on April 1, ending a season-long win string at six games.

The players on the team took the loss personally, and they bounced back with a decisive win over Sweet Home, the top-ranked team in 4A, 4-0 on April 3; and an 11-1 rout of Astoria on April 4.

“I think the loss was good for us,” said Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier. “I think the kids were taking too much for granted.”

Heading into play this week, the Gladiators had outscored nine opponents 80-9, en route to an 8-1 record in preseason play. They sported a .312 team batting average. Senior pitcher Megan Kirchem sported a 5-1 record, with a .67 ERA, 68 strikeouts and only four walks in 42 innings.

Kirchem didn’t have a bad game in last week’s loss to 2013 Class 5A quarterfinalist Hood River. The crafty right-hander went the distance in the nine-inning, extra-inning game with the Eagles, striking out 15 and walking no one, while scattering nine hits. But the Gladiators blinked twice on defense and two of the Eagles’ runs were unearned.

And the Gladiators struggled to put the bat on the ball, getting only two hits off of Hood River senior Kayla Byers, who struck out 12, walked two, and hit one batter.

Gladstone would have won the game in regulation, except for a two-run home run by Eagle junior Kelsey wells in the top of the sixth that knotted the score at 3-3.

Hood River pushed the game-winners across in the top of the ninth, scoring with two down on three base hits and a Gladiator fielding error.

Kirchem hit an infield single and Andra Breshears doubled for Gladstone’s only hits.

Kirchem fanned fourteen, walked one and scattered three singles in the shutout of Sweet Home, and her teammates player error-free ball behind her.

The Gladiators scored two runs in the sixth inning on a double by Julia Schumaker, a base hit by Kirchem and one Sweet Home error. They added two insurance runners in the seventh, scoring on an error and a home run by freshman Kenzi McLeod, the first of her high school career.

The Gladiators cranked up their bats for 16 hits in the 11-1 five-inning game with Astoria.

Meghan Winkle (4-for-4) and Kirchem (3-for-4) headed the hit parade.

Freshman Madi Mott pitched a complete game, striking out four and walking no one in a 2-hitter.

Heading into this week’s Tri-Valley Conference opener with Estacada, Schumaker (.500), Winkle (.440), Kirchem (.400) and Mott (.345) were Gladstone’s top hitters.

The Gladiators have a home game with Madras this afternoon and they play North Marion on the road next Tuesday.

Contract Publishing

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