Culps homer sinks Forest Grove; Balfour drives in six runs in a 20-7 rout of McNary

The Rex Putnam Kingsmen last week continued tough in preseason softball, giving three Class 6A teams a run for their money and coming out victorious in two of the three games.

After starting the week with a 5-2 loss to Westview, the Class 5A Kingsmen bounced back with wins over McNary (20-7) and Forest Grove (3-1).

Except for pitcher control problems, the Kingsmen would have likely gone 3-0 in last week’s games. Two Putnam pitchers walked 11 batters in the Westview game. The Kingsmen out-hit the Wildcats 6-5 and they played error-free defense behind their pitchers.

Junior Maggie Waymire (3-for-3) and senor Taylor Balfour (2-for-3) had big games at the plate in the loss.

The Kingsmen punished the ball for 15 hits in the five-inning game with McNary, and they pounded out 10 hits in last Friday’s 3-1 win over Forest Grove.

Senior Ashley Culp was the heroine in the Forest Grove game. The score was tied at 1-1 with two outs in the fifth inning when Balfour reached on a base hit. Culp then crushed the ball over the fence in left-center to plate Balfour and herself for the game-winners. It was Culp’s second round-tripper of the year.

Balfour (2-for-3) and Culp (2-for-3, 3 RBI) also had pivotal hits in the first inning when they brought Putnam’s first run across with back-to-back triples.

Waymire also had two hits and Broke Snyder rapped a double.

Freshman Sarah Abramson pitched a complete game, striking out six and walking two. Forest Grove’s only run, scored in the top of the fifth, was unearned.

“We played really well,” said Putnam coach Tiffany Strnad. “Our pitching was where it needed to be and we put the ball in play — a lot.”

Balfour (4-for-4, 6 RBI, 3 runs), Culp (4-for-4, two doubles) and Kate Betschart (3-for-3, 4 runs scored, one double) had big days at the plate in the five-inning rout of McNary.

The Kingsmen played long ball, with Snyder and Elysia Webb also hitting doubles.

The Kingsmen (6-3) finish off what has been a challenging preseason schedule this Thursday, when they play Class 6A Oregon City on the road.

They begin Northwest Oregon Conference league play next week, playing defending state champion Sandy on the road on Tuesday and hosting Wilsonville on Friday (April 18).

“I think our chances [against Sandy] are pretty good,” said Strnad. “If we come ready to play and play to our abilities, I believe we can play with anybody.... The girls are excited to get to league, and I like our chances.”

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