The Tigers can't come up with clutch hit in 3-1 loss

by: DAN BROOD - THE DELIVERY -- Tigard High School junior Lexi Kelly gets ready to fire a pitch to the plate during last week's game with Forest Grove. The Vikings got a 3-1 victory. TIGARD — It’s not that the Tigers didn’t hit the ball.

They did — hard.

But their timing, and their aim, was a bit off.

And that seemed to be the difference.

The Tigard High School softball team, not able to get the big hit at the right time in addition to hitting the ball hard right at Forest Grove defenders at times, was edged 3-1 by the Vikings in a Pacific Conference game played April 16 at Tigard High School.

“We picked it up for the most part,” Tigard junior Lexi Kelly said after the contest. “We need to focus on hitting. We’ve tweaked our swings, and we’re hitting the ball, but we can’t hit it right at people.”

“We left too many runners on base,” Tigard coach Connie Jolley said. “As a coach, you know that’s going to come back to get you. We just didn’t string our hits together.”

With the win, Forest Grove evened its Pacific Conference record at 1-1 at that point, while improving to 7-6 on the season.

Tigard saw its conference mark move to 1-1 at that point with the loss. The Tigers also moved its overall mark to 9-4, a year after the team won just six games for the entire season.

“The wins are nice,” Kelly said. “I think we’re more of a family this year, and that helps a lot. We all get along well.”

Tigard, in last week’s game with Forest Grove, got a two-out single by junior Kayla Saldana in the first inning, a leadoff single by Kelly in the second inning and a two-out walk by sophomore Kalyna Korok in the third inning. But the Tigers stranded all three of those runners on base, leaving the teams in a scoreless tie going into the fourth inning.

by: DAN BROOD - NICE GRAB -- Tigard sophomore left fielder Katy Warren makes a running catch during the Tigers' game with Forest Grove last week.That’s when the Vikings were able to break through.

Kendra Bailey hit a leadoff single to left field to lead off the frame for Forest Grove. Bailey stole second base, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Leena Silvis and then scored on a groundout by Sierra Martinez to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Tigard tried to answer back in its half of the frame. Kelly hit a one-out single to center field, but the Tigers couldn’t convert, as sophomore Katy Warren’s two-out deep fly ball to right field was grabbed on an over-the-shoulder catch to end the frame.

The Vikings, getting a bloop single and taking advantage of a Tigard error, was able to add onto its lead in the top of the fifth inning. The big hit of the frame for Forest Grove was Bailey’s two-out single to center field, which drove in both Carissa Brown and Sierra Gunderson, making the score 3-0.

The Tigers kept battling. They got a two-out double by sophomore Dena Emmons in the bottom of the fifth inning, but she was left stranded.

Tigard was finally able to break through in the bottom of the sixth inning. Junior Alexa Hansen got things started with a one-out double to the fence in left field. One out later, Hansen moved up to third base on an infield single by sophomore Ramsey Hare. Warren followed with a single to left field, driving in Hansen to cut the lead to 3-1.

The next Tigard batter, freshman Kaitlyn Nunn, hit a grounder to the right side, with the ball bobbled by Forest Grove second baseman Emily Peters. However, Nunn was called out on runner interference on Warren, who, while running to second, hopped over the batted ball right before it got to Peters.

The Tigers then went down in order in the seventh inning — marking the first time they did that all game — leaving Forest Grove with a 3-1 victory.

“It just took us too long to get going,” Jolley said.

Kelly and Nunn both pitched for Tigard in the contest. Kelly, throwing the first four innings, gave up one run on two hits while striking out two and walking none. Nunn, pitching the final three frames, gave up two runs (both unearned) on two hits with no strikeouts and no walks.

by: DAN BROOD - SMACK -- Tigard junior Alexa Hansen belts a sixth-inning double in the Tigers' game with Forest Grove.“Our pitchers did a great job,” Jolley said.

Tigard, as a team, had seven hits in the contest. Kelly went 2 for 3 at the plate.

“I was just trying to do my job,” she said.

Saldana, Emmons, Hansen, Hare and Warren added one hit apiece.

Tigard bounced back from the loss to get a 3-0 road win over Century on Friday.

With that victory, the Tigers improved to 2-1 in Pacific Conference play while moving to 10-4 on the season.

Nunn, pitching for Tigard, took a perfect game into the seventh inning of that contest. She ended up throwing a two-hit shutout, striking out 13 and walking none.

Saldana led Tigard’s eight-hit offensive attack, going 3 for 4 at the plate with a triple, a stolen base and an RBI. Korok went 2 for 3 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. Emmons went 2 for 4 with a run scored. Junior Emilee Heyden had Tigard’s other hit.

On Monday, the Tigers held a 9-0 lead over Hillsboro when the came was suspended after four innings due to rain and field conditions. The game will be concluded May 7 at Hillsboro, prior to the teams’ regularly-scheduled game that day.

Tigard was scheduled to host rival Tualatin in a conference game on Wednesday. Results of that game weren’t available when The Times went to press.

The Tigers will be back in action Friday when they at Newberg at 5 p.m.

On Monday, Tigard will travel to Glencoe for a 5 p.m. contest.

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