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SIX GAMES, SIX DAYS

Lady Lions tie for second in NWOC
by: John Brewington, OUT AT HOME—St. Helens’ Michelle Sass tags out a Liberty runner in the early going of Saturday’s game with Liberty. 

It seemed like almost an impossible task, fraught with peril, but the St. Helens Lady Lions tackled last week's six-game schedule with tenacity and emerged with a 5-1 record.

The five wins boosted St. Helens into at least a tie for second place in the Northwest Oregon Conference. It was a tremendous improvement over last year's fifth-place mark and established the Lady Lions as one of the state's elite teams. Monday, they were awaiting the outcome of a last-day game between Liberty and Sandy to see whether they would occupy second all alone, and where they would finish in the rankings for play-in and playoff opponents.

'I'm not sure this has been done for awhile, playing six consecutive games' St. Helens Coach Jeff Edwards said. 'The max any of the other league teams played was three. And we should have been 6-0. These girls deserve a lot of credit. I'm having the time of my life.'

It didn't all go smoothly, but St. Helens rose to the occasion every time they were challenged-save for the first game.

The Lady Lions faced No. 2 ranked Rex Putnam in the Monday game, a team they had beaten 4-2 in nine innings in their first meeting. The game remained scoreless until the top of the seventh inning. An error and a deep infield hit accounted for the lone run of the game. St. Helens threatened in the bottom of the frame, but couldn't get a runner home.

It would be the only loss in a hard-fought week. The team ripped last-place Milwaukie on Tuesday, and then faced speedy Liberty for the first time on the season. A three-run homer by Abbie Hanson would be the difference in the 5-2 win for St. Helens. Next up was Parkrose, a team than gave them trouble in their first meeting, but St. Helens was in no mood for drama, posting a 12-2 win in six innings. That brought Sherwood to town on Friday. St. Helens had beaten them for the first time in five years earlier in the season. St. Helens jumped out to an early lead, got past a big Sherwood inning and posted a 12-7 win.

Saturday morning they faced Liberty again, jumping all over them in the first inning, getting past some mistakes in the third, and finishing with a 10-6 victory over the highest scoring team in the state.

Edwards credited freshman pitcher Mariah Mulcahy, who earned four wins and has nine on the season. He said Payton Albertson gave them some good innings, winning the Milwaukie game, and throwing the first three innings of the Sherwood game.

The Lady Lions wouldn't learn until late Monday which team they would face in the Northern Division play-in round, but were guaranteed a home game. If they advance to the state playoffs, they likely will have to travel.

Game results:

St. Helens 13, Milwaukie 2

This game was close for three innings then St. Helens broke it loose with a six-run fourth inning.

Payton Albertson threw a three-hitter, struck out six and gave up just one earned run in the game.

The Lady Lions pounded out 17 hits. Mariah Mulcahy was three for four with two RBIs, on base four times, and scored twice. Albertson was three for five with three RBIs, on base three times and scored twice. Sue Sass was three for four, on base four times, had three RBIs and scored once. Michelle Sass was two for three with two RBIs and scored once. Jessica Sanchez was two for four, on base four times with one RBI and scored three times. Abbie Hanson was two for four with two RBIs.

'I was very nervous going into the top of the fourth,' Edwards said, 'but we woke up and broke out. Payton had a very big win-with a six-game schedule it was nice to give Mariah a break before Wednesday's game with Liberty.'

St. Helens 5, Liberty 2

The Lady Lions faced Liberty for the first time on Wednesday in a game that had been postponed originally from April 17.

St. Helens' Michelle Sass led off the game with a triple to center. Sanchez followed with a walk, and went to second on a passed ball. Albertson hit the ball hard at short and Sass scored on the error.

Liberty would come back to tie up the game in the bottom of the third off an error, a walk, and a single. They would take the lead in the bottom of the fourth off a walk, and a single.

St. Helens would knot the score in the top of the fifth when Stevie Strawn walked and Michelle Sass doubled off the fence to knock her in.

In the sixth, Albertson and Alyssa Giesbers both walked. Brooke Cathers then hit into a fielder's choice that put out Albertson. However the throw to first got down the first-base line and Giesbers scored. That brought up Abbie Hanson.

'She came up to me before she batted and wanted to know if there was a red light on the first pitch. I told her to go for it if it was across the plate,' Edwards said. 'That first pitch came in and she hit it like a heat seeking missile. It made my hair stand up on end-it was just a rope to left field. We may have celebrated too much, though.'

Mulcahy gave up just two hits in the contest, struck out eight, walked four and allowed just two runs from the highest scoring team in the state, Edwards noted.

St. Helens 12, Parkrose 2

Parkrose managed to stay in this game until the bottom of the third when St. Helens increased their lead. The Lady Lions would go on to a win in six innings.

St. Helens pushed five runs over in the bottom of the sixth to bring the game to an quick end.

Sue Sass was two for three hitting in the game with a double and a triple, reached base three times, had three RBIs, and scored a run. Sanchez, Albertson and Cathers each had one hit with two RBIs. Mulcahy, Albertson, and Giesbers also had one hit each.

St. Helens 12, Sherwood 7

It was senior night in St. Helens and the Lady Lions had just one bad inning in a 12-7 victory over Sherwood.

Edwards said his six seniors have been a big part of the team's success this season. Those graduating include Albertson, Sanchez, Hanson, Myranda Hamilton, Kayla Beeler, and Michaela Ziegler.

Albertson threw the first four innings of the contest, but Mulcahy came in to close in the fifth.

The Lady Lions would pound out 16 hits in the game. Mulcahy was four for four with three singles and a double, on base four times with two RBIs and three runs scored. Sue Sass was two for three, on base two times and had two RBIs. Giesbers was two for four with an RBI and two runs scored. Abbie Hanson had just one hit, but it was a three-run homer in the bottom of the first to give St. Helens a 6-1 lead. Single hits were put up by Sanchez, Albertson, Cathers, Hamilton, and Stevie Strawn.

'The game scared me,' Edwards said. 'After the game we celebrated like we had never won a game in our lives and we had to come back the next day at 10 a.m. We weren't ready before the Liberty game and we had a talk. Both teams came out and had errorless warms. I told the girls it's going to be a good game, and they said 'That's what we want coach.''

St. Helens 10, Liberty 6

St. Helens would come out swinging against Liberty, putting two runs over in the first inning, five in the second, and getting three more for insurance in the fourth inning.

It was a lot closer game and more intense than the stats indicate.

'I liked the way we came out and socked them right in the face,' Edwards said.

Michelle Sass led off with a single, Brooke Cathers sacrificed her to second, and Mulcahy singled to score her. Mulcahy would score on a sacrifice fly by Albertson.

The Lady Lions didn't let up in the next inning. Hanson led off the inning with a double, and Ziegler went in to run for her. Cathers singled to move Ziegler to third. Hamilton followed with a single and the ball got by the left fielder and both runners scored. Michelle Sass walked, Sanchez hit a bloop single for an RBI, and Mulcahy hit an infield single. When Liberty tossed the ball to first to try and get Mulcahy, no one was there, the ball went down the line and two more runs scored.

Liberty would get a three-run double, and then added two more runs in the top of the third.

Edwards would tell the team that a two-run lead wasn't enough and they would respond in the bottom of the fourth.

Hamilton started with a walk, Sass reached base on an error, and Sanchez singled to send two home. Sue Sass reached base on an error that scored one more.

'Mariah stepped up (pitching),' Edwards said, 'and started bringing it the last three innings.'

Mulcahy would give up nine hits in the game, but struck out eight, walked no one, and gave up just three earned runs.

Scoring:

Tuesday, May 8

St. Helens 13, Milwaukie 2

St. Helens 100 613 2-13 17 1

Milwaukie 100 100 0-2 3 3

Payton Albertson and Michelle Sass; Nicole Bugliari and Mariah Scott.

Wednesday, May 9

St. Helens 5, Liberty 2

St. Helens 100 013 0-5 5 4

Liberty 001 100 0-2 2 2

Mariah Mulcahy and Michelle Sass; Ashley Driscoll and Paige Smotherman.

Thursday, May 10

St. Helens 12, Parkrose 2

Parkrose 020 000-2 3 2

St. Helens 123 015-12 8 2

Lundenberg and Anyanwu; Mariah Mulcahy and Michelle Sass.

Friday, May 11

St. Helens 12, Sherwood 7

Sherwood 100 600 0-7 7 2

St. Helens 614 100 x-12 16 5

Amanda Dworniki and Raegan Musselman; Payton Albertson, Mariah Mulcahy (5) and Michelle Sass, Jessica Sanchez (4).

Saturday, May 12

St. Helens 10, Liberty 6

Liberty 005 000 1-6 9 2

St. Helens 250 300 x-10 10 4

Ashley Driscoll, Hannah Herbert (3) and Paige Smotherman; Mariah Mulcahy