Estacada takes a slim lead in the fourth inning before falling to the Indians 9-7

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: COLIN STORM - Estacadas Annie Eads takes a swing during Thursdays 9-7 loss to No. 4-ranked Molalla.Molalla softball coach Bob Russell looked over to his bench as the Indians trailed 7-6 in the fifth inning.

“This was not how this was supposed to go,” Russell said. “I guess we’ll see what we’re made of.”

While Russell and the Indians weren’t thrilled with how they earned a 9-7 win over the visiting Estacada Rangers on Thursday, they were happy to get the win. Earlier in the week, No. 4-ranked Molalla knocked off No. 1 Gladstone to earn sole possession of first place in the Tri-Valley League.

Estacada, sitting in last place in league, nearly pulled off the shocker of the season.

Early on, Molalla jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Sarah Kailiuli and Katie Hagler had back-to-back hits to get on base. Estacada then walked three of the next four batters, allowing Kailiuli and Hagler to score.

When Molalla subbed Benson out in favor of Danae Castaing, Estacada responded with two in the top of the second to knot things up at 2-2. But Molalla retook the lead in the bottom of the second, 4-2.

Once again, Estacada tied it up at 4-4 only to see Molalla retake a two-run lead in the bottom of the third when the Indians drew four-straight walks before Kenzi Kluken drove them in with a bloop single just over the second baseman’s head.

In the top of the fourth, Castaing got in some trouble after getting two quick outs: with Bailey Hill on first, the Rangers connected on four-straight hits to bring across three runs and take the 7-6 lead.

The Rangers then subbed in Silvia Hill to pitch, who held Molalla scoreless over in the fourth and fifth innings.

When Benson reentered the game on the mound for Molalla, things started to settle down. The future Mt. Hood Saint pitcher struck out the side in the fifth and retired the side in the sixth to keep the Indians in the game.

With Molalla batters were struggling to find a rhythm against Hill, Russell asked Kelsey Hemmert if she felt like she could get on with a bunt. Hemmert laid down the perfect bunt and beat the throw to first to get on with a lead-off single. Hagler was able to get on when the Rangers’ third baseman bobbled a ground ball, and Benson was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.

A pair of pop-ups almost got the Rangers out of the jam, but then things started to unravel for the Rangers. Molalla’s Ashley Alexander drew a walk on four-straight balls to score the tying run, then Nicole Mauer roped a double to bring in Hagler and Benson. Russell waived Alexander home, but she was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

Benson then struck out the Estacada side in the top of the seventh to preserve the 9-7 win for Molalla.

“I knew once I was back in the game we were OK,” Benson said.

Russell, meanwhile, was a bit more reflective about the game.

“I’m going to take blame for this one,” Russell said. “I approached it too lackadaisical. It was my fault, I didn’t push them.”

Estacada fell to 0-12 in league and 1-18 overall, while the Indians maintain their position atop the TVL standings at 11-1 and 16-4 overall.

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