The Lions move into a tie for first behind strong pitching and defense

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - West Linn shortstop Leah Beyer makes a catch on a tricky line drive during West Linn's win over Lake Oswego last week. The Lions have played superior defense in their three-game win streak. The West Linn softball team appears to have turned a corner and its rugged preseason schedule may be yielding benefits.

After a tough 2-1 loss to Oregon City to open league play, West Linn has rattled off three straight victories to move into a tie atop the TRL standings.

The Lions have been getting stellar pitching and defense in their wins, topping Canby 2-1 last Wednesday and Clackamas 3-0 in a game that needed to be completed over Monday and Tuesday due to rain.

“We're not making any base-running mistakes or fielding errors and that's been keeping us in games. Our struggle has been scoring runs but we're starting to win the close games,” coach Scott Smith said.

West Linn also sandwiched an easy 18-3 victory over winless Lake Oswego into its streak.

The Lions gutted out a win over the Cougars last week, despite getting just two hits in the game. But West Linn was able to capitalize on a few Canby mistakes.

The Lions put the ball in play and scored on an error and a passed ball for its two runs.

On the mound, Sarah Von Ahn scattered five hits and pitched well against the middle of the Cougars' line-up, refusing to give up the big hit to preserve West Linn's victory.

“Sarah's just been terrific. She's done an incredible job getting out of jams and refusing to give in,” Smith said.

After coasting against a struggling Lake Oswego team Friday, the Lions' pitching and defense prevailed against Clackamas.

It was a pitcher's duel for the entire game with all of the runs coming on one big blast.

In the third inning, freshman Devinne Amesquita came up with a pair of runner on base and blasted a line drive over the fence, staking the Lions to a 3-0 lead.

“It got out of the park in a hurry. She's always had that kind of power. That home run was enormous and really gave us a boost,” Smith said.

That was all the offense Von Ahn and the West Linn defense would need. Clackamas struggled to figure out the West Linn hurler and the Lions continued to play virtually error-free baseball behind her.

When the game was postponed in the fifth inning, it was resumed Tuesday but not much changed on the field.

Nursing their lead, West Linn continued to mow down the Cavaliers' offense and preserved the shut out.

“We're starting to play with more confidence and we're not intimidated anymore like we might have been earlier in the year,” Smith said.

West Linn was scheduled to play Lakeridge, who was also tied for first place in the TRL at 3-1, on Wednesday.

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