SOFTBALL: Forest Grove revs up its offense to win three of its first four non-league games
by: Zack Palmer, Forest Grove sophomore Katy Brosig gets a high-five from teammate Claire Van Domelen (No. 6) after making a dazzling play in the field.

BEAVERTON - The smiles on the faces of Forest Grove's softball players didn't tell the whole story Saturday afternoon. In fact, the smiles were not in any way representative of what the Lady Vikings endured in a bizarre and grueling 15-14 loss to Sunset.

In a game that lasted over two hours and featured 29 combined runs, 26 hits, six errors and some questionable officiating, the Lady Vikings should have been worn out. Instead, the girls smiled and laughed as they huddled near the bus for a post-game talk from head coach Ole Evenson (who was ejected after the game for arguing with the umpires but managed to keep a smile on his face, too).

'Neither team had a strike zone. Both pitchers had to just groove it right down the middle,' Evenson said. 'I just give the kids so much credit. Not once did they complain about the umpires. They've gotten to a great, mature level where they understand that their job is to play the game and it's my job to worry about the officiating.'

Emma Gronseth, Forest Grove's all-state pitcher, struggled through one of the most frustrating games of her career, throwing 188 pitches in seven innings (only eight of which were called strikes) and walking a career-high eight batters.

'Emma was the most mature person on the field,' Evenson said. 'With a normal strike zone, she threw the equivalent of 17 innings. I told [catcher] Faith [Evenson], 'You basically caught two games without a break.' It was crazy.'

Crazy it was. Sunset led 9-5 through three innings until Forest Grove tied the game in the top of the fifth. The Lady Vikings surged ahead 14-10 with a five-run rally in the top of the seventh only to watch as Sunset scored five runs of its own in the bottom of the inning to snatch away a victory.

After the game, Evenson felt a few mistakes cost his team a chance to run its early-season record to 4-0. Of the 15 runs given up by Gronseth, only six were earned.

'We outhit them. We outran them on the bases. But mistakes hurt us,' Evenson said. 'If we don't make those mistakes, we still win the game.'

Sophomore Katy Brosig had a huge game for Forest Grove, going 5-for-5 with a triple, a double and four runs scored. In the process, she raised her batting average to .529 on the season.

Brosig's not the only one tearing the cover off the ball. Through four games, Forest Grove (3-1) is batting .406 as a team with a .563 slugging percentage. The Lady Viks have scored 34 runs and stolen 19 bases.

That offensive production helped the Lady Vikings to a pair of non-conference wins last week - 3-1 over Southridge on Tuesday and 7-3 against Beaverton on Wednesday.

Forest Grove fell behind early in both games but rallied twice for a pair of wins. Trailing 1-0 against Southridge (1-2) after an unearned run in the top of the first, Forest Grove responded with an RBI single from Gronseth in the bottom of the inning. The Lady Viks would go ahead for good on Faith Evenson's RBI base hit in the fourth, then add an insurance run with an RBI single from Brosig in the fifth.

Beaverton (2-2) also took an early lead against the Viks, scoring two runs in the top of the first. Forest Grove rallied with five straight hits in the second inning. Brosig ripped a two-run double to tie the game and Claire Van Domelen followed with an RBI triple. Lindsey Rennie made it 4-2 with a double of her own.

The visiting Beavers got as close as 4-3 in the third before Forest Grove put things out of reach. Krystal Huffman drove in a run with a single in the third inning, and Van Domelen added some insurance with an RBI double in the sixth. Rennie squeezed in a run later in that inning for the final 7-3 margin of victory.

Gronseth and junior Molly Normandin split pitching duties in the two games. Gronseth threw a combined eight innings with 13 strikeouts and two walks. She got the win against Southridge. Normandin pitched six innings total, striking out three and allowing just one earned run. She picked up the win against Beaverton.

'We're doing a lot of things really well, we just can't have the slow starts. It's been a bit of a trend so far,' Evenson said. 'We can't give teams the opportunity to steal games from us.'

The Lady Vikings traveled to Medford this week for the North Medford Invitational, where they were scheduled to play four games in two days. Poor weather on Monday cut that back to three games. Check next week's edition of the News-Times for complete results.

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