Sandy scores twice with two outs in the seventh inning to topple Central Catholic 3-2

by: SANDY POST: DAVID BALL - Sandy senior Molly Nutt heads down the first-base line after connecting for a hit during last weeks 3-2 win over Central Catholic. The Sandy High softball team found itself in unfamiliar territory last week, with only one out separating itself from a three-game losing streak.

Central Catholic took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning and moved close to securing the victory when infielder Jessie Nagae scooped up a ground ball for a quick out and pitcher Katie Barron struck out the next batter.

Next up was the top of Sandy’s batting order — the only players who had enjoyed any signs of success against Barron on a night that moved from drizzle to downpour as the innings passed.

Sandy’s top three hitters had reached base in 5 of their 9 previous appearances. The rest of the lineup was held without a hit.

Molly Nutt got the comeback started with a slapper that rolled halfway down the third-base line. The speedster was safely aboard before Rams infielder Kylee Humphreys could get the ball out of her glove.

“The team kept me pumped up, and I stepped into the box determined to do something,” Nutt said.

Next up was Hailey Valetski, who quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count.

“I knew she would come right at me. She got those two strikes, and I just had to keep me head down and take a swing,” Valetski said.

The next pitch was a fastball in the top half of the strike zone. Valetski swung hard. The ball flew into the right-field gap.

“As soon as I heard it, I knew the ball was hit deep,” Nutt said. “I just kept running, and my coach (Kellie Wilkerson) was waving her arms fast sending me the whole time.”

Nutt came through unchallenged with the tying run, and Valetski stopped at third for a stand-up triple.

She wasn’t the only one standing. The home crowd rose to their feet in the wet bleachers to celebrate the team’s second chance.

Sandy’s Rachel Rutledge made the most of it with a sharply-hit bouncer across the middle. Central’s Nagae managed to stop the ball, but it took a diving effort. Valetski was across home plate with the winning run before Nagae could get off the turf.

“We knew this was a good team coming in here tonight, and this is a good win to propel us forward,” Nutt said.

Sandy saw its 34-game win streak snapped the previous week with back-to-back one-run losses.

Central opened the scoring in the first inning on an RBI-single into left field by Brittney Duronslet. Sandy pitcher Sammie Byron escaped the bases-loaded jam with a strike over the outside edge to get the Rams’ batter looking.

Sandy answered in its half of the inning when Rutledge knocked an RBI-single through the right side.

Central moved back in front when Nagae scored on a throwing error in the second inning for a slim 2-1 margin that the Rams would carry most of the way.

The Pioneers stranded six runners through the middle innings, leaving the tying run at third after Barron ended the second inning with one of her 11 strikeouts.

Central had a chance to expand its lead after Ashley Doyle led off the fifth inning with a double that bounced off the center-field fence. But, two batters later, she was thrown out by Sandy’s Paige Allinger in a tight play at the plate.

Allinger made a move toward the runner off first base, took two steps out of the pitcher’s circle and spun around to fire a perfect throw to the plate. Byron was in position for the tag before Doyle could slide across.

Sandy’s Lexi Moss made a catch on the run at the right-field line to strand a Rams’ runner at third in the top of the seventh inning.

The Pioneers (8-3) opened the NWOC season Tuesday against Rex Putnam. Results were not available at press time.

Sandy continues its tough nonleague schedule at No. 1 Hood River at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. The Pioneers have faced three top-10 schools at the 6A level.

View a photo gallery from the game at

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