Crimson Tide stay unbeaten in conference play and regain their spot atop the OSAA rankings

Glencoe was kind enough to spot Forest Grove a run in the top of the first inning of the teams’ Pacific Conference softball matchup last Friday.

But over the next three innings, the Crimson Tide saw that run by the Vikings and then raised them seven more on the way to an 8-1 win at home. Glencoe scored three runs in the second inning, poured in four more in the third and capped the scoring with a solo home run by Katie Sutherland-Finch in the HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Glencoe senior Katie Sutherland-Finch delivers a pitch during last Friday's 8-1 victory over Forest Grove, which kept the Crimson Tide undefeated in Pacific Conference play.

Coupled with a 5-0 win at Century last Wednesday and a 13-0 win at McMinnville on Monday, Glencoe improved to 13-1 overall and 4-0 in Pacific Conference play, setting up a showdown today with Tualatin, which also was undefeated in the conference heading into Wednesday’s slate of games.

After briefly dropping to No. 2 in the OSAA rankings earlier in the week, the Tide were back in the top position as of Wednesday afternoon.

“I think they were a little anxious to come out, but it was good to see them settle down and get in the zone after that,” Glencoe coach Jacy Jukkala said. “You always want them to make the next play after an error happens, and they did. They settled down and we didn’t make any more errors.”

In a contest of two Pacific Conference contenders — Forest Grove tied for second behind the Tide in league play last year — the Vikings made their way onto the scoreboard almost immediately. Molly Johnson reached base on an error. After Johnson stole second and reached third on a passed ball, Alexis Richey’s single drove her in to stake the Vikings to an early lead.

“Once someone gets a run on you, you automatically get a little more pumped up, and you’re like, ‘Oh, we gotta get it going,’” said Glencoe senior centerfielder Morgan Brown, who contributed three hits and an RBI in the game.

And Glencoe certainly did get it going. In the second, in a 10-pitch at-bat, Emily Stonier sent a single off Forest Grove starter Shelby Turner into the left-center field gap to drive in Lauren Messmer and Emilee Eastman. Two batters later, Macy Besuyen brought Stonier home with a single that curved fair around third base.

“The pitcher was doing pretty good, and we knew we needed to score and come aggressive the first couple innings,” said Besuyen, the Tide’s petite freshman leadoff hitter, whose size belies some power at the plate. “And I think we did a nice job timing her and getting some nice hits in.”

Glencoe kept coming in the third, starting with Sutherland-Finch’s leadoff double to the fence in left field. After Messmer hit a sacrifice fly to move courtesy runner Misty Wilson to third, Maria Dendinger put an RBI single past the Forest Grove third baseman. A flyout, a single by Stonier, and a Kamryn Apling walk loaded the bases for the Tide, who then drove out Turner for reliever Emily Peters.

The change of pitchers did little to faze Besuyen, though, who promptly knocked a two-RBI single over the second baseman’s head. Brown contributed the final run of the inning with a single to right field to bring in Apling.

“It was a good game,” said Brown, one of two seniors on the team, along with Sutherland-Finch. “We got challenged a lot right from the start when they got their first run. So we just stayed together as a team and picked it up and got the win.”

After Sutherland-Finch’s solo blast to right-center in the first at-bat of the fourth, both teams went scoreless the rest of the way.

Of course, at least for Forest Grove, Sutherland-Finch had a lot to do with that. The 2012 First Team All-State pitcher gave up just three hits and one walk to the Vikings while striking out 19 in a complete-game HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Glencoe freshman Emily Stonier slides safely into home plate ahead of the tag from Forest Grove catcher Leena Silvis during last Friday's Pacific Conference game.

With all of the Tide’s production at the plate, that early run wound up not being a problem for Glencoe, which clearly settled in and found its stride in the ensuing innings.

“Honestly, that’s a product of Katie Finch,” Jukkala explained. “She’s the first one out there to be like, ‘Hey, no big deal. You made a mistake. Let it go. Let’s make the next play.’ One of our themes has been: ‘What’s the most important play? The next play.’ The team centers around her and feeds off her energy and her spirit.”by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Glencoe's Katie Sutherland-Finch points to her teammates and celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning of last Friday’s Pacific Conference game against Forest Grove. Sutherland-Finch also threw a three-hitter and struck out 19 batters in the Crimson Tide's 8-1 victory.

The Forest Grove game was a bit of déjà vu for Sutherland-Finch. Two days earlier against the Jaguars, she also fanned 19 batters and gave up one walk, this time in a one-hitter. And she had another double and a home run, good for four RBIs in all. Courtney Clayton went 3-for-4 with a double, two singles and two runs scored. Messmer and Appling added two singles apiece.

Against McMinnville on Monday, Brown had two hits and two RBIs, Courtney Clayton went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Sutherland-Finch went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, all on a three-run home run. Sutherland-Finch also threw a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts and one walk.

The Tide were scheduled to travel to Newberg on Wednesday (after press deadline). Their game against Tualatin, which was ranked fifth in the state as of Wednesday afternoon, is scheduled for 5 p.m. today at Glencoe.

Even with another big game looming, last Friday Jukkala was more focused on processes rather than outcomes.

“We always talk about what we have to work on,” Jukkala said. “And I think we just need to get better every game. I think that’s our big focus, is just getting a little bit better every game.”

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