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Record season ends with heartbreak


The Gladiators bow out in the quarterfinals with a 1-0 loss to Ridgeview

by: JON HOUSE - Gladstone senior Megan Kirchem is tagged out at home by Ridgeview pitcher Sara McKinney as Kirchem attempts to score on a passed ball in last Fridays quarterfinal game at Gladstone. The Gladiators dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker, with Ridgeview scoring the games only run in the top of the seventh.A tremendous season came to an end for Gladstone High School’s fourth-ranked softball team Friday night in Gladstone, as the Gladiators bowed out of the 2014 Class 4A state high school playoffs with a 1-0 heartbreaking quarterfinal loss to seventh-ranked Ridgeview.

The Gladiators finished the season with a 26-2 record, their only losses to Ridgeview and to Hood River, a team that reached this week’s semifinals in Class 5A softball. Gladstone went undefeated (15-0) in league for what is thought to be the first time in school history.

The 26 wins ties the school record for most wins in a season, equaling the mark set last year, when the Gladiators went 26-4, advancing to the Class 4A semifinals, where they lost to McLoughlin. The Gladiators this year also set a school record for consecutive wins, at 20. That record ended with last Friday’s loss to Ridgeview.

Few expected last Friday’s game to be low scoring. Both teams were averaging seven runs a game heading into the contest.

But the game turned into a battle of pitchers and defense. The Gladiators made contact with their bats, but they struggled to get the ball through the Ravens’ infield.

Ridgeview junior Sara McKinney struck out only three batters, walked no one, and the Gladiators reached her for only three hits.

Gladstone freshman outfielder Madi Mott (2-for-3) had a single up the middle in the fourth inning and a single to right in the seventh. But her two base hits were the only balls that the Gladiators hit out of the infield.

Senior Julia Schumaker, the Gladiators’ leading hitter for most of the season, made solid contact three times, hitting three line drives. But they were right at Ridgeview infielders, one of them to Ridgeview first baseman Hannah George and two to Ridgeview second baseman Shawna Marshall.

The Ravens reached Gladstone senior Megan Kirchem (7 strikeouts, one walk) for five hits. The game’s only run was unearned.

With the game a scoreless tie, Ridgeview freshman outfielder Alex Spencer led off the top of the seventh with a bloop single to right field; Spencer then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior catcher Paige Davis.

Senior outfielder Lexy Brown, who bats ninth in the Raven lineup, then hit a ground ball to third base. Gladstone’s third baseman handled the hard hit grounder with no difficulty. But her pressure-packed throw to first base was off-line, and Spencer scored on the overthrow.

The Gladiators didn’t go quietly, as they battled in the bottom of the seventh. Kirchem reached on a fielding error by Ridgeview’s third baseman, the Ravens’ only error of the game. Mott singled to right field, and Kirchem and sophomore pinch runner Ainslee Jordan advanced on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore shortstop Kat Kerr.

McKinney sent the next Gladstone batter down swinging. And McKinney then ended the game, handling a come-backer off the bat of junior Melisa Campos and making the play at first in plenty of time.

“I think we did a good job battling to the end,” said Schumaker. “We just had trouble getting our hits through their infield, and we made a couple of errors. Other than that, I think we played a great game.”

Schumaker said of Ridgeview’s pitcher, “She was pretty good, better than we expected. She beat us a lot on the outside....”

Gladstone’s only other scoring threat came in the fourth inning. With one down, Kirchem reached on a bunt single. Mott followed with a single up the middle; and Kirchem advanced to third when the Ravens got Mott out at second on a ground ball by Kerr.

Kirchem them attempted to score on a passed ball. The play at the plate was close, but McKinney made the tag on a belly-first slide by Kirchem, and Ravens’ escaped with no damage done.

“[Our kids] played their hearts out and left it all on the field,” said Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier. “And that’s all that you can ask.”

With the 1-0 win over Gladstone, Ridgeview (20-5) advanced to a June 3 Class 4A semifinal game at third-ranked McLoughlin (21-3).

by: JON HOUSE - Megan Kirchem had a tremendous senior year at Gladstone High School, finishing with a 19-2 record, a 0.50 ERA and a school-record 261 strikeouts in 140 innings. Kirchem was also Gladstones leading hitter, with 44 hits in 95 at bats, for a .463 batting average.Things look promising for the Gladiators next year. Kirchem (pitcher), Schumaker (second base) and Meghan Winkle (first base) were the only seniors on this year’s varsity roster.

Underclassmen starting in last week’s quarterfinal with the Ravens included: juniors Molly Webster (centerfield), Andra Breshears (right field) and Campos (third base); sophomore Kerr (shortstop); and freshmen Kinzi McLeod (catcher) and Mott (left field).

“We had a super year and they were a great group of girls to coach,” said Mortier. “They played with tremendous heart. They battled and played hard all year. We had a couple of other games like [the quarterfinal with Ridgeview] where we were down and were able to pull it out. It didn’t happen tonight, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. They gave it their all.”

“They were a better team than most of the teams we played,” Brown said of Gladstone.

Schumaker gave this advice to returning Gladstone players: “Keep working hard and always give it your all. Because you never know when it’s going to be your last game.”

Schumaker added, “I definitely believe they can make it just as far or further next year. They still have a lot of talent on this team.”

The Gladiators in 2014 had a .319 team batting average, led by Kirchem (.463, 44-for-95), Schumaker (.459, 45-for-98), sophomore Kennedy Coy (.345) and Mott (.322). Coy missed Gladstone’s last five games of the season because of a shoulder injury.

Mott (22), Winkle (21) and Schumaker (16) were the RBI leaders; Schumaker (36) and Kirchem (35) led the team in runs scored. Schumaker (10) and Mott (8) led the team in extra-base hits.

Kirchem finished with a 19-2 record, a 0.50 ERA, and 261 strikeouts and 12 walks allowed in 140 innings; Mott went 6-0, with a 1.33 ERA, and 43 strikeouts and four walks allowed in 42 innings.

Glads sink Pirates

Gladstone rallied around its bats and the pitching arm of senior Megan Kirchem to dispatch with Marshfield 6-3 in a first-round Class 4A state softball playoff game, played at Wilsonville May 25.

The Gladiators reached Marshfield freshman left-hander Mackenzie Johnson (no strikeouts, 2 walks) for nine hits.

The margin of victory would have been greater except for a couple of untimely errors. Only one Pirate run was earned.

Kirchem struck out eight and walked one, while scattering four hits.

The Gladiators took charge early, scoring three runs in the first inning. Senior Julia Schumaker led off the game with a base hit to left and scored when a Pirate infielder overthrew first base on a bunt single by Kirchem.

Kirchem stole third and scored on a groundout by freshman Madi Mott. Sophomore Kat Kerr kept the rally going with a base hit, and she scored on another overthrow at first on an infield single by senior Megan Winkle.

The Gladiators upped their lead to 4-0 in the third frame, taking advantage of control problems by Johnson. Kirchem reached as a hit batter, Mott singled, and back-to-back walks by Kerr and Winkle forced in the fourth tally.

A Pirate reached on a bunt single in the top of the fourth, stole around, and scored on an overthrow as she was stealing third.

Gladstone put the game away in the sixth frame, scoring two more runs, for a 6-1 advantage. Schumaker hammered a two-run double to bring the runs across.

The Pirates got a pair of hits and executed two first-and-third steals in the top of the seventh to narrow the gap to 6-3. But Kirchem then ended the game with a called third strike for the third out of the inning, leaving a runner stranded at second base.

Schumaker (2-for-4), Kirchem (2-for-3) and Kerr (2-for-2) headed up the Gladiator offense.

It was the 20th consecutive win for the Gladiators.

Marshfield finished up at 17-11 with the loss.

The Pirates had advanced to the first-round game through a 2-1 win over La Salle in the May 22 play-in round.

“I think it was the first time this year that we’d faced a left-hander,” said Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier. “But we had her scouted from the La Salle game. We knew she throws to the outside of the plate, so we had all our kids crowd the plate.... We hit the ball really well.”