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Lady Lions win play-in game to advance

St. Helens shakes early jitters to post 4-0 play-in win
by: John Brewington, Sue Sass drives the ball for what would be a 3-RBI single on Thursday in St. Helens’ 4-0 play-in win over Wilson. The Lady Lions travel to The Dalles on Wednesday for their first-round state playoff game.

The St. Helens Lady Lions made it to the state tournament for the first time since moving up to the 5A classification with a convincing 4-0 play-in win over Wilson on Thursday.

The Lady Lions travel to The Dalles-Wahtonka on Wednesday for a first-round state playoff game. If they win, they'll play again on Friday in the quarterfinals and then Tuesday in the semifinals. The state championship game is set for Saturday, June 2 at the Oregon State University softball complex.

The team had to shake some early inning jitters at the plate, but found a way to score three in the fourth innings and it would be enough.

Mariah Mulcahy turned in another solid performance from the pitching rubber, giving up just one hit, allowing no runs, striking out nine, and walking no one.

'We didn't hit as well as I would like,' St. Helens Coach Jeff Edwards said, 'but it was timely and good enough to win. Their pitcher gave us some problems. She threw high and inside to jam us. She was very slow and took her time. We tried to get the girls to step out and break her rhythm, but they weren't comfortable in doing that and it gave her an advantage.'

St. Helens didn't get their first run of the game until the bottom of the third. Michelle Sass reached base on a single and then stole second, sliding under the tag. Edwards gave the speedy freshman catcher the go for a steal at third, and in an even closer play she got a hand on the bag just after the tag. Stevie Strawn would strike out, but bounded for first when the catcher dropped the ball. The throw to first hit her in the back and Sass sped home.

'There was some debate on whether she was in the baseline,' Edwards noted, 'but t(the umpires) let it stand.'

The Lions made themselves a little more comfortable in the fifth, scoring three more runs.

Myranda Hamilton led off the inning, getting hit by a pitch. A single by Michelle Sass advanced her to second, and everyone was safe when the ball bounced off the pitcher's glove on a Strawn at-bat. A fielder's choice would get Hamilton cut down at the plate and put Mulcahy on first. Sue Sass then stepped up and smacked a line drive to left center. It got by the fielder and sent three runners home.

That was all St. Helens would need.

'When you don't play your best and hit well, that's a good thing,' Edwards said. '(Mulcahy) is very special. She wants to win. We've got a pretty good catcher (Michelle Sass), too, and a pretty good first baseman (Payton Albertson). Heck, we had 10 all-stars, that's pretty good.'

Mulcahy, who turned 15 on Saturday, was Pitcher of the Year in the Northwest Oregon Conference, and Edwards was Coach of the Year.

The Lady Lions now take on The Dalles-Wahtonka. TDW is fourth in the OSAA rankings and has a 20-5 record. St. Helens is now 18-5-1 on the season, ranked tenth.

'I've had six different coaches tell me about them,' Edwards added. 'It's nice to have friends in the business. I have a very good report, but we're going to downscale it. Bottom line is The Dalles needs to stop us. We're going to sprinkle some things in (from what we've learned), but not make the report bigger than it needs to be. We're going to concentrate on us and make them stop us.'

The coach said TDW has a very good pitcher with a 'herky-jerky' motion and has some speed. 'If we can get by their pitcher, we'll beat them,' he said.

Scoring:

St. Helens 4, Wilson 0

Wilson 000 000 0-0 1 1

St. Helens 001 300 x-4 5 1

Wilson-Madi Lostra and Emma Feldman; St. Helens-Mariah Mulcahy and Michelle Sass.

St. Helens 3, HRV 1

The St. Helens Lady Lions worked a non-league practice game with Hood River Valley into their schedule before their play-in game with Wilson last week, coming away with a 3-1 win.

The Lady Lions were facing a pitcher, Kayla Byers, that threw a perfect game against them last year and the game was a good test, Edwards said.

Mariah Mulcahy gave up just four hits, no walks, one run and struck out seven in the game.

All the St. Helens scoring occurred in the bottom of the third inning with two outs.

Brook Cathers started things by reaching base on an error with one out. Michelle Sass bunted her to second, making it two outs. Stevie Strawn then reached base on a perfect bunt and Cathers moved to third. Cathers went home on the throw to first. Mulcahy then reached base on an error, and Payton Albertson singled to send the other two runs home.

A single, ground out and a double gave HRV their only run in the seventh inning.

Scoring:

St. Helens 3, HRV 1

HRV 000 000 1-1 4 3

St. Helens 003 000 x-3 3 0

HRV-Kayla Byers and Annie Veatch; St. Helens-Mariah Mulcahy and Michelle Sass.