St. Helens can manage just two hits in first round 5A playoffs
by: Mark Gibson, Rally Hat Failure-The St. Helens Lady Lions tried everything to get a run across last Wednesday at The Dalles Wahtonka, including putting helmets on backwards, but not much seemed to help in a 2-0 loss to TDW.

The St. Helens Lady Lions could hardly beg a hit off The Dalles-Wahtonka's Ann-Marie Guischer in a first-round 5A state softball playoff game in The Dalles on Wednesday last week, losing 2-0.

The Lady Lions got just four runners to base in the game, not even getting through the line-up three times. The loss eliminated St. Helens, keeping them from advancing to the quarterfinals.

'It was a tough place to go,' St. Helens Coach Jeff Edwards said. 'They play all this music and had this rodeo announcer. It wasn't pumping our kids up.'

Guischer, apparently Oregon State bound, hurled a two-hitter, striking out 13 batters along the way. Sue Sass and Stevie Strawn were the only Lady Lions to get a hit. Mariah Mulcahy was hit by a pitch to reach base, and Sass also reached base on a dropped third strike.

St. Helens got a superb pitching performance from freshman Mulcahy. She struck out seven batters and gave up just five hits-unfortunately three of them came in the same inning, allowing the only two runs.

TDW got their scores after a strike-out in the bottom of the third. A single put one on base, and the next batter flew out into center. Another single and then a hit for both RBIs capped the scoring.

'They (TDW) looked horrible in warm-ups and we took infield and did everything right except hit the ball. We were poised to win the game, looked professional and were cheering as a unit,' Edwards said.

'What cost us was our inability to get to the pitcher. She was faster than anyone we've faced all year. We had trouble laying off the high stuff, and she also had a curve, screwball, and a change-up.'

Edwards said he felt his players were prepared and enthused going into the game.

'We were the better team (overall), but we couldn't hit off their pitcher and that leaves an empty feeling in our gut.'

He was a little upset that they had to move up to play the No. 7 team, rather than play Sandy, the No. 8 seed. The Lady Lions were the No. 9 seed for the bracketing. The Oregon School Activities Association tries not to bracket teams from the same league in the first round.

'It was a pretty good year. We went 18-6-1 and finished second in the NWOC,' Edwards noted. 'My coaching staff, Dave Sass and Miranda Little, did a great job. Our jayvee team, coached by Carrie VanDeWege and Alyssa Rodriguez, also had a good year, going 16-3. We had 34 wins in the program.'

Edwards said he is losing six seniors from this years team-Myranda Hamilton, Payton Albertson, Kayla Beeler, Michaela Ziegler, and Abbie Hanson. Another player left just before the playoffs.

'I give the seniors a lot of credit,' he said. 'They accepted their roles and their leadership was the reason we did so well. In some cases they had to assume a reduced role in order to put the team ahead of themselves. Some of the parents didn't agree, but as a team we did all the right things. We told them at the beginning that they had to put the name on the front of their jerseys ahead of the name on the back.'

He added, 'One of my seniors, who was first team last season and honorable mention this year said she wouldn't have it any other way because we're winning.'

The Lady Lions return freshmen Mulcahy, Michelle Sass, Alyssa Giesbers, sophomore Stevie Strawn, and juniors Brooke Cathers and Sue Sass. Sophomore Karli Edwards, the team' leading hitter a year ago and Edwards'daughter, had to sit out the season after a knee injury in basketball. She was expected to get a medical release to play as early as this week. That leaves just one or two positions to fill on the team. The coach feels that shouldn' be difficult to do, picking from the jayvee team swing players this season, other jayvees and perhaps one or two incoming freshmen.

He said most of the kids are playing summer ball and expects the team to be as solid next year as this one.

'We thought that if we could have gotten past that first round (playoff) game we could have won it all. That's our goal for the next three years-to win a state championship.'


TDW 2, St. Helens 0

St Helens 000 000 0-0 2 0

TDW 002 000 x-2 5 0

St. Helens-Mariah Mulcahy and Michelle Sass; TDW-Ann-Marie Guischer and Katherine Kramer.

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