by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit second baseman Ali Schultheis' solo home run in the fourth gave the Crusaders the lead for good against Beaverton on Monday.

It’s staggering how a single healthy cut at a belt-high fastball can veer a softball team’s energy in the right direction and put a game back on course.

Her team wobbling slightly after allowing four runs to Beaverton in the bottom of the third that erased a 6-2 lead, Jesuit’s Ali Schultheis stepped to the dish searching for something juicy to swing at.

Two pitches went by from Beaver pitcher Isabelle Parker, neither of which was suitable for Schultheis.

The third toss, however, was right up the senior’s alley.

Parker came straight into Schultheis’ wheelhouse with a fastball that the Crusader second baseman sent screaming over the centerfield fence to reclaim a 7-6 lead for Jesuit.

“I was like ‘This one is going to be good’,” said Schultheis. “I just went up aggressive and did my best.”

RBIs from Alicia Taylor and Kelsey Downey coupled with settled pitching from Hailey Malin the rest of the way gave the Crusaders a 13-6 win on Monday and a second place Metro tie with Aloha.

“It just takes one person to start a rally, and that’s what we did tonight,” said Schultheis.

“To come back after a tie game with a big hit like that, it was easy for us to build off each other’s energy,” said Jesuit sophomore catcher Emily Preble. “It was easy to build off each other’s hits and support each other up to bat. That gave us the confidence to go in and get it for ourselves.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior rightfielder Mckenna Holmes gets under a flyball in the third inning of the Crusaders 13-6 win over Beaverton on Monday.

Taylor’s RBI bloop single scored Preble after Schultheis’ rocket in the fourth, and Downey’s double plated Taylor to mushroom the lead to 9-6. Preble and Taylor singled in the sixth and were brought home by another Downey double — this time to left­ — that made it 11-6.

“Hitting’s contagious,” said Preble. “It really came down to seeing the ball down, waiting for our pitch and waiting on the ball. We were able to string a collection of hits together and get a rally going.”

Having a five-run leash seemed to appease Malin who shook off the four-run third inning and retired 12 of the final 14 batters she faced. Pitching to contact and allowing her defense to work, the senior righty didn’t allow a Beaver base runner past first base in the final three innings.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior first baseman Emily Allen beats a Beaverton throw home for a run in the second inning of the Crusaders win over the Beavers.

“It’s all having the confidence to know your defense has your back,” said Preble. “When we make the plays we need to make and have the runs to back it up, it’s easy for (Malin) to throw well and capable like she can.”

“Having the bats behind (Malin) makes her feel better and just helps everyone stay relaxed and play better,” added Schultheis.

Beaverton got on top of Jesuit early when Annie Wissmiller’s bloop single brought home a run and gave the Beavers a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

“We were in it,” said Wissmiller. “And, we could’ve come back at any time. We battled back a couple different times, and I think if we just could’ve had a couple more breaks go our way we could’ve come back.”

Jesuit answered in the second with six straight runs to take a 6-2 lead, including a two-run double from Schultheis and an RBI single from Emma Gordon.

“It was a game of ups and downs, but I think in the end we were able to ride the highs and battle through the lows enough to pull out the win,” said Preble. “Although we didn’t start out the way we wanted to, we still got the ‘W’ which is big for us.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton first baseman Casey Wise takes a groundball to the bag for an out in the third inning of the Beavers defeat to Jesuit on Monday.

However, Beaverton responded in the third when Casey Wise hustled home on an infield single. Kaitlin Collins drove in two with a single to left to trim the deficit to 6-5, and Anika Matsumota tied it 6-6 with an RBI single.

“We have a ton of talent on this team,” said Wissmiller. “We just have to keep our energy up. Once we put everything together and take care of the ball a little more we’ll be doing well.”

Something Jesuit talked about prior to the first pitch was showing up to the park loose and relaxed, which the Crusaders did, only to see Beaverton take the 2-0 lead. The trick, Preble said, is staying calm, but continuing to stay mentally crisp throughout the contest. Jesuit is young, yet Preble said they’re ready for the Metro’s stretch run when the Crusaders face Westview and Aloha for the second time.

“That’s where the wins are going to come from,” said Preble. “That’s how we can take Metro, which is our goal. “We’re definitely in it. We were one run away from beating Aloha. We just have to come together and play sharp.”

“It’s all about maintaining our intensity,” added Schultheis.

Beaverton’s shown signs of turning its season around as of late, pushing Aloha and Southridge to the brink of defeat before dropping a pair of heartbreaking one-run decisions. The youthful Beavers beat Sunset, 9-5, on Friday before playing some their best ball of the season against Jesuit.

“We had a lot of good moments,” said Wissmiller. “Honestly, it could’ve gone either way. We fought harder than when we played them last time. We’re such a young team, and I think we’re just going get better as we get older. It’s about discipline, too. As you get older you get more disciplined at the plate. You don’t panic with situations in the field.”

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