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Lady Lions near softball league second

Two shut-out wins keep St. Helens tied with Wilsonville


by: JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Michelle Sass tags out Rex Putnam runner to preserve shut-out during game this past week.The St. Helens Lady Lions posted shut-out victories over Milwaukie and Putnam, and moved a step closer towards securing second place in the Northwest Oregon Conference.

Going into Thursday, the Lady Lions were tied with Wilsonville for second place, both with 12-3 league records. St. Helens still had a game with Parkrose to go, while Wilsonville had to take on league-leading Sandy. If both win it’s a tie, but if one loses they take second. The Lions are heavy favorites to beat Parkrose, while Sandy is heavily favored over Wilsonville.

The Lady Lions were also scrambling to try and find a non-league game against a highly-ranked opponent to try and bolster their No. 8-ranking.

The Oregon School Activities Association rankings are more important than league standings in the 5A classification. The top eight teams get a bye directly into the playoffs. The next 16 teams have a play-in game. Home field is also at stake for the playoffs. The first two rounds go directly to the top-ranked teams.

St. Helens coach Jeff Edwards was pleased with his team’s showing over the last half of the season, and particularly in recent games. The Lady Lions have won eight of their last nine games, losing only to Sandy, 2-1.

“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Edwards said. “On any given night, I think we can beat anyone. I think we can win it. Maya (pitcher Mariah Mulcahy) is getting stronger, our hitting is getting better. We’re playing together as a team. We’ll see if that’s good enough. If not, we’re going to go down fighting. These are really good kids.”

The Lady Lions took it to Rex Putnam on Tuesday night, scoring early in the home game, and holding on for a 5-0 win. The only downside for St. Helens was that they stranded 12 base runners.

Karli Edwards started things for St. Helens in the second with a one-out base hit. Alyssa Giesbers bunted her to second and she scored on a hit by Taylor Leal.

The squad added another run in the second when Sue Sass walked and stole second. The throw to second hit her foot and the ball squirted into the outfield. Putnam didn’t cover it well, Sass got up and took off for home.

The Lady Lions put the game away in the next inning, sending three runs across the plate. Alyssa Giesbers started the frame with a single and Leal reached base on an error. Leal was out on a fielder’s choice that put Kali Moore on base. Stevie Strawn followed with a single to left that got through the fielder, allowing two runs to score and Strawn to move to third. She went home on a passed ball.

Mulcahy gave up just two hits to Putnam, walked just one and struck out five.

Edwards noted the superb play of Michelle Sass at catcher in the game. At one point, she sprinted out of the box on a bunt, quickly snagged the ball and winged it to first for an out.

“Not many catchers can make that play,” Edwards said. “When she is engaged there is not a better catcher in the state. I like my catcher.”

The coach was also pleased with the return to form of his daughter Karli. She has struggled with injury and illness, but as of late has been playing well both on offense and defense. She gunned one player down at home against Putnam. “She’s had four hits in the last two games and feeling confident,” dad said. “I’m very proud of her with all she’s had to deal with. She’s playing like an all-league second baseman now.”

On Friday the previous week, St. Helens dispatched Milwaukie

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