Southridge beats Sunset for the fourth straight time, this one in the playoffs
by: Miles Vance, ON TO THIRD — Sunset shortstop Bev Miller tries to tag out Southridge's Sophie Herman while Southridge's Tori Gentile also arrives at third base in the Skyhawks' 14-5 win at Southridge on May 23.

BEAVERTON - One more time.

As if the previous three meetings between the Southridge and Sunset softball teams weren't enough, the Skyhawks and Apollos decided to have another go at each other in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs on May 23.

And while the result was the same - Southridge beat Sunset for the fourth straight time - the Skyhawks took a different route to get there, hammering two Apollo pitchers for 17 hits and powering their 14-5 victory at Southridge High School. Two of Southridge's three previous wins over Sunset had come by just one run. The Metro League champion Skyhawks then went on to lose at Crater in Friday's quarterfinals and saw their season end at 22-7.

'I was really happy with the way we were swinging,' said Southridge senior shortstop Shae Nelson, who went 4-for-5, homered, knocked in two runs and scored three times. 'We've played them four times and it's never been like that so I'm really happy we were able to come out and swing strong.'

'Everyone did their part,' added Skyhawk third baseman Bailey Kasler, who went 1-for-3, homered, scored once and knocked in two. 'We came back and just kept scoring and kept scoring and we pulled through in the end.'

Sunset, meanwhile, saw its season end at 18-11 after a third-place finish in league.

'We played out hearts out today. That's all you can ask for,' said Sunset senior third baseman Erin Gray, who went 3-for-4 at the plate and drove in three runs. 'It felt really good.'

'It was a good game, but they're very good hitters. They should be respected,' said Sunset senior short-stop/pitcher Bev Miller, one of just four seniors in the Sunset lineup. 'I'm sorry to see our season end.'

The Apollos opened up with one run in the top of the first, but Southridge hardly noticed. The Skyhawks took advantage of two early Sunset errors to push across four runs in their half of the first and added two more in the bottom of the second to lead 6-1, with Tori Gentile driving in three runs in those first two frames.

But Gray knocked in two runs in the third, the Apollos added another in the fourth and yet another in the fifth and … Southridge just kept bashing away. The Skyhawks, after Sunset closed within 6-4, responded with three in the fourth when Nelson drilled a leadoff solo homer to left, and Kasler followed one batter later with a two-run shot of her own to make it 9-4.

The home runs 'definitely changed the momentum,' Kasler said. 'That gets us going, and when our dugout's loud and happy, then we're hitting well.'

Jessie Moore and Anne Marie Richards hit back-to-back doubles to kick off Sunset's fifth and cut the margin to 9-5, but Southridge then ended any and all questions about who would win by pushing home five more runs in the bottom of the sixth. There, the Skyhawks smashed out four more hits and forced two more errors, getting a two-run single from Cheyenne Mendenhall to highlight the festivities.

'It's always a good game with Sunset and it was good to put some runs in the board,' Nelson said. 'We all played our part. We all chipped in.'

For the Apollos, they left proud of their efforts and successes despite the day's final score.

'I think, as one of the four seniors, we were just out here to have fun this year and play our hardest and see what came out of it,' Gray said. 'We came into this season being really underestimated because we lost a lot of people over the years but we worked hard. That's all I could ask for.'

Erin Bonzer went 3-for-4 for the Skyhawks, while Mackenzie Spencer, Taylor Bland and Sophie Her-man added two hits each. For Sunset, Moore and Alyssa Cooper had two hits each.

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