Softball: The Timberwolves fall to Westview, but they get their bats going in the loss
by: JAIME VALDEZ, GLOVE WORK — Tualatin third baseman Kirstie Lerum makes the play.

TUALATIN - While many Oregon softball teams were travelling to such exotic locations as Arizona and Medford for a slew of games over Spring Break, Tualatin enjoyed a, well, break.

The Timberwolves didn't play or practice for nine days and the rust showed as Westview jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Monday's non-league game at Tualatin High School.

The Wolves rallied behind Natalie Taylor's home run in the fourth for a 3-3 tie before the Wildcats one-upped them, pushing three across in the seventh sparked by a homer of their own for a 6-3 victory.

Given the stretch away from the field, Tualatin (4-5) wasn't displeased with the performance against No. 9-ranked Westview.

'Coming off no practice, this was a good game,' Taylor said. 'The week before Spring Break we weren't getting key hits and scoring like we needed. We're improving little by little.'

The Wolves scored seven runs in their five games heading into the break and were held hitless through three innings on Monday before Taylor's blast led off the fourth. She drove a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence.

'Right when it hit off the bat, I knew it was a good hit but I didn't know it would get out of here,' Taylor said. 'It felt good.'

Kirstie Lerum followed by drawing a walk and Amelia Bywater reached on a bunt single before Janelle Cromie's groundout moved each up a base. Hannah Buschert knocked both in when she hit a shot over the leaping center fielder for a two-run double that tied the score 3-3.

'I usually swing at the first pitch because that's usually the best,' said Buschert, the Wolves' starting pitcher. 'As a pitcher, I've learned that it's easiest to start with a strike, so I keep that in mind as a hitter..'

Back-to-back strikeouts looking left Buschert stranded at second and neither team scored in the fifth and sixth innings. That ended quickly in the seventh when Westview's Kayla Turner drove the first pitch she saw over the left field fence for a solo homer and 4-3 Wildcat lead.

A hit batter and infield single put two more runners on for Westview, the first scoring when Kellie Struder purposefully got in a pickle and Brooke Cole raced home from third, sliding in just ahead of catcher Taylor's tag.

Ashley Garcia's single up the middle moved Struder to third and she later scored for a 6-3 lead on a groundout by Jordan Hopkins, who had four RBI's in the game including a two-run double in the first.

Tualatin's Rachel Manhart beat out an infield single with one out in the bottom of the seventh and moved to second on a passed ball, but a foul-tip strikeout and a groundout ended the game.

The Wolves managed four hits (three in the fourth) against Westview starter Dylan Mizer, who struck out nine in a complete game effort. Buschert started and closed for Tualatin, recording two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings, while Bethany Dempster threw the other 1 1/3 inning before Buschert re-entered with one out in the seventh.

'We did a lot better than previously and are still getting better,' Buschert said of the Wolves, who replaced five starters off last year's team.

The Wolves bounced back Tuesday with a 2-0 win at Beaverton to even their non-league record to 5-5.

Tualatin struck first against the Beavers when Lerum followed walks by Danielle Roisom and Taylor with a single that scored Roisom in the first inning. The Wolves tacked on a run in the third with Taylor hitting a leadoff double, stealing third before being knocked in by Lerum.

Dempster (5 innings) and Buschert (2) combined to shut out Beaverton, allowing four hits and getting strong defensive games from Roisom, Dempster and shortstop Jordan Skinner.

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