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Lady Lions becoming a favorite in the 5A state softball race

St. Helens coach Jeff Edwards nabs win against his brother Gary


by: DAN BROOD, PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Safe at second. St. Helens' Sue Sass slides safely into second base during last Monday’s game with Tigard. The Lady Lions posted their second win in three outings, downing Tigard, 10-6. The squad is considered one of the premier teams in the 5A ranks.The St. Helens Lady Lions bounced back from a disappointing loss at Canby last week to post a convincing win over Tigard on Monday night, 10-6.

St. Helens had a lead on Canby through the fifth inning, but some critical errors and mental mistakes resulted in an 8-2 loss.

Even though some players were missing in both games, St. Helens took a big lead over Tigard and led by as much as seven runs (8-1) in the fourth inning. The Lady Lions would give up some late runs to the Tigers, but the outcome never was in question.

The Lions struck quickly in the contest, pushing four runs across the plate in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Courtney Anderson had the big hit of the frame for the Lady Lions with a two-out double to score freshman Taylor Leal and sophomore Alyssa Giesbers. Senior Sue Sass and sister, sophomore Michelle Sass had singled in the inning and both scored. A triple and a throwing error gave Tigard a run in the bottom of the first.by: DAN BROOD, PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - St. Helens' Mariah Mulcahy slips past the tag at third during  Monday's game at Tigard.

St. Helens coach Jeff Edwards was up against his older brother Gary for the first time and the younger brother prevailed. It was a match-up of two pretty young teams. Tigard has no seniors and just one junior. The rest are all underclassmen. The Lady Lions have just one senior, and three juniors.

The difference is that St. Helens has sophomore pitcher Mariah Mulcahy, last year’s Northwest Oregon Conference pitcher of the year. All-league catch Michelle Sass is the other half of that battery. Edwards was Coach of the Year in the conference. St. Helens was picked as a team to watch in the 5A state race as well.

The Lady Lions added one more run in the second inning. Michelle Sass singled, advanced to third on a double by Mulcahy and Sass went home on a passed ball.

The Lady Lions added three more runs in the fourth inning to take an 8-1 advantage. The Sass sisters both walked to start the frame and Mulcahy advanced them with a double. Freshman Ashley Giesbers then hit a single and sent both home.

The last two runs for St. Helens came in the sixth when Mulcahy tripled. Leal then singled to plate her, and Leal would later score on a passed ball.

In the bottom of the fifth, Tigard had a walk, a single, a sacrifice and a single by freshman Ramsey Hare to bring home the two base runners.

Tigard got the last three runs of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Two singles and a triple by Hare sent two of those runs home. Hare would score the last run on a ground out to first. Tigard threatened some more, but Mulcahy struck out the last batter.

Jeff Edwards said Mulcahy tired later in the game due to the cold and gave up most of her hits in the last few innings. Still she had eight strikeouts, walked just three and gave up 10 hits. Of the six runs, just four were earned.

Edwards said he talked to the girls before the game about working the pitchers at the plate a bit more. They listened and had 14 hits, nine walks and three runners on base by error.

Mulcahy not only did her job from the pitching rubber, but led the team at the plate. She was three for five with a double and a triple, on base three times, scored twice, and had three RBIs. Michelle Sass was three for four, on base four times, and scored three times. Leal was two for three, reached base three times, scored twice and had three RBIs. Alyssa Giesbers, Anderson, Sue Sass, Hailee Fischer and Stevie Strawn each had a hit. Kali Moore was one for one in the game as a pinch hitter.

On Thursday the week before at Canby, the Lady Lions had what is now the top-ranked 6A team in the state on the ropes, before giving up late-inning runs in the loss.

The Lady Lions took just nine players to the game and with some of their starters gone, had several girls in different positions.

It didn’t bother them at first as St. Helens took a 2-0 lead early and still led 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Stevie Strawn led off the game with a single, Sue Sass sacrificed her to second and she scored on a single by Michelle Sass. Sue Sass advanced to second on the throw home on Strawn. A single by Leal brought her home.

Canby answered with one run in the bottom of the first off a walk, a single, and a double.

It was the fifth inning when the wheels came off for the short-handed Lady Lions. A walk, a couple of errors on ground balls, a sac bunt, and a double accounted for four runs. Canby added three more in the six on some throwing errors and a hit.

Mulcahy gave up just five hits in the game, walked three and struck out seven.

Michelle Sass was two for three hitting, while Strawn, Finch, and Leal each had a hit.

“We both had five hits, but the difference was that we had six errors and they had none,” Edwards said.

St. Helens had a home game slated with Newberg on Thursday, but inclement weather was forecast, making that doubtful.

The teams head to Medford on Monday and Tuesday next week for four games in two days. They play South Eugene and Mazama on Monday, with Marist and North Valley on Tuesday.

Edwards said he planned to take a jayvee pitcher along to give Mulcahy a bit of a rest in some of the games.

The squad hosts Glencoe and the state’s top-ranked pitcher on Monday, April 1. They host Forest Grove on April 3.