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Lady Viks bounced by Glencoe


Forest Grove's postseason run ends in the second round against league rival Glencoe

The Forest Grove softball team’s 2013 season came to an end at the hands of a familiar foe.

After knocking off David Douglas 2-0 in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs last Monday, an extension of the Lady Vikings’ season wasn’t meant to be, as they fell 7-3 to Pacific Conference champion and rival Glencoe in Wednesday’s second round.

The loss brought to a close another standout season for the program.

“When we step back and look at 21-7 (overall) and 10-4 in league and run down the stats, it’s absolutely a season that they should be proud of,” Forest Grove coach Trevor Tusow said after the game. “And we’re very, very, very proud of what we did. As a coaching staff, we just couldn’t be happier with what the girls did. They battled all year.”

That battling continued through the final game. Playing for the third time in 2013, there were no secrets between these two teams. In a game staged in rainy and cold conditions on the artificial turf at Hillsboro Stadium, Forest Grove was looking for the upset after league losses of 8-1 (away) and 4-3 (home) to the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide earlier this year.

With a berth in the state quarterfinals on the line, Forest Grove struck first by scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Molly Johnson knocked a single to left field and then stole second and third during plate appearances by Alexis Richey and Shelby Turner.

Then, a wild pitch by Glencoe ace Katie Sutherland-Finch was enough to get Johnson across home plate.

But Glencoe answered quickly and emphatically, scoring all seven of its runs in the first four innings.

“They put kind of continuous pressure on us. They hit the ball well,” Tusow said about Glencoe, which recorded 12 hits during the contest. “They’re a good hitting team.”

The Tide took a lead they would not relinquish by scoring two runs in the bottom of the first on a single to left field by Courtney Clayton, which brought home leadoff batter Macy Besuyen, and a sacrifice fly by Maria Dendinger, which plated Clayton.

Dendinger added a two-run home run to left-center in the next inning, and Clayton’s two-RBI double and yet another sacrifice fly by Dendinger in the fourth inning gave Glencoe a 7-1 lead.

“The difference was like three big hits,” Tusow said. “Seven to three, it looks like a comfortable win. It was a much closer ball game than that. We had multiple innings where we had people at second and third. We were kind of one hit away from scoring multiple times.

“That score’s not necessarily going to reflect how close of a ball game it was.”

Showing the pluck that has characterized them all season, the Lady Vikings did not go quietly in the seventh.

Leena Silvis led off the inning with a single to left field, giving the Vikings some life. After a flyout and a groundout, Iesha Johnson bunted, and thanks to a Glencoe throwing error, she was safe at first and Silvis was able to motor around the bases from first to score, cutting the lead to 7-2.

Molly Johnson reached base with a successful bunt for her third hit of the day, and Richey reached base on yet another Tide throwing error, which allowed Iesha Johnson to come around and score, accounting for Forest Grove’s final run.

Sutherland-Finch ended the contest with her 15th strikeout, this one against Turner. The Cal-bound Sutherland-Finch gave up seven hits and one walk to the Vikings, while Forest Grove sophomore Emily Peters gave up two walks and struck out one.

“We definitely didn’t give up and we fought ‘til the end and we gave everything that we had, left it all on the field,” said Molly Johnson, who went 3-for-4 in her final high school game. “I’m really proud of the girls.”

In the Vikings’ postgame huddle, plenty of tears were shed, but the players also offered up lots of smiles during a recap of the season.

“In time, we’ll look back at this and feel really good about it,” Tusow said. “Right now it stings because we’ve come so far and we’ve grown so much. We’ve shown that we can compete with Tualatins and Glencoes. We beat the No. 1 team in the Metro and we beat the No. 2 team in the Mt. Hood Conference. We’ve shown that we belong this year at the top.

“That’s why it hurts now and that’s why there are the tears. Everything that we asked these girls to do the entire season, they’ve done — and more.”

The loss brings to an end the high school careers of Kira Hein and the Vikings’ entire starting outfield — Molly Johnson, Richey and Iesha Johnson. Those seniors provided stability and leadership to a team that was fairly youthful overall and included a number of new pieces this season.

“Obviously I’m biased, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an outfield that played better, more consistently, than our outfield anywhere in the state,” Tusow said. “They were really leaders of our team.”

As for Hein, she returned from an injury- and illness-plagued junior season to be a stalwart in the Forest Grove infield.

“Now she comes back and she’s second team all-league infield and one of our emotional leaders,” Tusow said. “That senior class, they kind of set the tone for us. They were real quiet in terms of their leadership. They set things by, ‘This is how we play,’ and that raised the bar for everybody.

“We’re certainly going to miss them. They were a special group.”