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St. Helens takes control of the NWOC softball landscape with 2-0 win at Sandy

by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Paige Allinger squeezes a throw to pick up an out at third base during last weeks home loss to St. Helens. Dating back to last season, St. Helens pitcher Mariah Mulcahy had lost three straight games to Sandy, despite allowing only two runs in each contest. On Thursday, Mulcahy finally got the best of the Pioneers.

Mulcahy overpowered Sandy in the pouring rain and tossed a four-hit shutout as the Lions topped the Pioneers 2-0.

“She did an excellent job,” Sandy coach Kellie Wilkerson said. “It is obvious that she has put in the work. You can tell she wants to win a state championship.”

Even with the wet conditions, Mulcahy had complete control of three different pitches. She mixed her pitches brilliantly and had the Pioneers off balance all night. Sandy only hit one or two balls hard the entire game. Mulcahy finished with 11 strikeouts and the Pioneers managed to hit the ball out of the infield just four times, and two of those pokes were fly outs.

Through four innings, Sandy’s only two hits were bunt singles by speedster Molly Nutt. Paige Allinger and Presley Turin each had a base hit into center field later in the contest. No one else came close.

Due mostly to Mulcahy’s sensational performance, the Pioneers were foiled in every effort to capitalize on the few scoring chances they had. In the bottom of the first inning, Nutt stole second after her first bunt single. Sandy tried to move her to third with a sacrifice bunt, but the attempt was popped up to Mulcahy who caught it on the fly. Mulcahy proceeded to strike out the next two hitters to get out of trouble.

With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Sandy catcher Rachel Rutledge found her way on base on a throwing error. She trucked into second on the throw, but was stranded there as Mulcahy set down two Pioneers in a row on strikes.

Allinger’s single in the fifth yielded nothing when it was followed by another popped-up bunt and an infield fly. It was the same story for Turin in the seventh when her single gave way to a groundout and Mulcahy’s final strikeout.

“We just didn’t do anything when we had runners on, and that is something we have to work on,” Wilkerson said. “It was just the little things we didn’t do quite as well as we normally do. Against good teams, you can’t afford not to take advantage when you have opportunities.”

Sandy pitcher Sammie Byron initially kept pace with Mulcahy in the battle of the Northwest Oregon Conference’s two best hurlers. Byron retired the first 10 batters she faced as the game remained scoreless through three innings.

Like Mulcahy, Byron too surrendered just four hits. The difference was that St. Helens bunched its hits together. The Lions came up with three consecutive hits in the fourth inning – capped by a double by Taylor Leal – to score their first run. St. Helens added an insurance run in the sixth when a pair of walks set the stage for Mulcahy who slapped an RBI-single through the infield to help her own cause. With the way she was pitching, the extra run was plenty.

Sandy dropped to 7-3 in the NWOC standings with the loss. The Pioneers entered this week in third place in the conference, but still held the No. 1 spot in the Class 5A rankings.

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