They go 15-0 in the Tri-Valley Conference

Gladstone last week continued on track for one of its best softball seasons in school history, putting four more games in the win column to wrap up an undefeated Tri-Valley Conference league season.

With wins last week over North Marion (4-1), Madras (3-1), La Salle (3-2) and Molalla (11-1), the Gladiators finished 15-0 in conference and they improved their record to 23-1 on the season.

Last Friday’s five-inning 11-1 rout of Molalla was the Gladiators’ 17th straight win on the 2014 season. They haven’t lost since April 1, when they fell 5-3 to Hood River, the second-ranked team in Class 5A.

Gladstone enters postseason play ranked fourth in the state in Class 4A softball — back of Yamhill-Carlton (21-1), Banks (20-3) and McLoughlin (18-3).

The Gladiators will host a game against a yet-to-be-determined opponent in next Wednesday’s (May 28) first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

“I said last year that I had the best group I’ve ever coached,” said Gladstone coach Bruce Mortier. “This group has proved to be a little better. They’ve come together as a team and played well all year. The seniors have been excellent role models. They come out and play hard and everyone on the team puts in maximum effort.... Except for a few girls on the team who played basketball, everyone has been in the weight room twice a week since January.”

A year ago the Gladiators went 26-4, losing to McLoughlin in the state semifinals, after going 12-3 and finishing second to Molalla (20-6, 13-2) in league. The 26 wins was a school record for most wins in a season.

The Gladiators this year finished league play five games in front of league runners-up La Salle (18-8, 10-5) and North Marion (15-9, 10-5).

Through play last week, the Gladiators were hitting .317 as a team, led by seniors Julia Schumaker (.488, 33 runs scored) and Megan Kirchem (.450), sophomore Kennedy Coy (.345) and freshman Madi Mott (20 RBI).

Kirchem had a 17-1 record, with a 0.41 ERA, 239 strikeouts, nine walks and only 46 hits and seven earned runs allowed in 119 innings.

Kirchem pitched in last week’s games with North Marion and La Salle, striking out 14, walking one and yielding three hits in the 4-1 win at North Marion, and striking out 10, walking two and yielding four hits in the 3-2 win over La Salle.

Last week’s games with the Huskies and Falcons were both barnburners.

Trailing 1-0, the Gladiators scored all four of their runs in the top of the seventh at North Marion.

Meghan Winkle led off the seventh with a base hit. The Gladiators loaded the bases with one down on an error and a fielder’s choice. Coy then drew a bases loaded walk to force in the tying run; Schumaker reached as a hit batsman to force in the game-winner.

With two down, Mott launched a fly between left field and centerfield. Two North Marion outfielders collided in chasing down the fly, and two more Gladiators scored.

The Gladiators only had four hits in that game, but they put the ball in play a lot, striking out only two times.

The Gladiators scored early and then battled for their lives to hold off the Falcons. La Salle had the tying and winning runs on base in both the sixth and seventh innings.

Gladstone scored two runs in the third frame on two La Salle errors, a sacrifice bunt, a passed ball and an RBI triple by Schumaker.

Gladstone added the winning tally in the fifth inning, scoring on singles by Kirchem and Schumaker, a groundout by Mott, and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Winkle.

La Salle answered with two runs in the top of the sixth. Stevie Carlos reached on an error on a bunt, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Makenzie Cook and scored on a base hit by Emily Goodman. With two down, Loryn Williams walked, and Sydney Chvilicek doubled in a second run.

Kirchem then retired the side with a strikeout.

La Salle got runners on first and second with two down in the seventh, but Kirchem then got her third strike out of the inning to put the contest in the book.

Mott pitched in last week’s games with Madras and Molalla, striking out seven and walking one, while allowing three hits in the 3-1 win over the White Buffaloes, and striking out five and walking no one while giving up three hits in the 11-1 five-inning rout of Molalla.

With the score tied at 1-1, the Gladiators scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth to pull out the win over Madras. Sophomore Kat Kerr reached with a base hit and scored with one down when Madras’ right fielder dropped a fly ball. Kerr then scored an insurance tally on a base hit by Molly Webster.

The Gladiators stung the ball for 16 hits in last Friday’s five-inning game with Molalla. It was senior night and Gladstone’s three seniors — Schumaker, Kirchem and Winkle — combined to go 6-for-11 at the plate.

Kirchem led the hit parade with three hits in four at bats and three runs scored.

Gladstone had a practice game scheduled at home today at 5 p.m.with Colton.

In other games last week, La Salle defeated Molalla 3-1, North Marion 4-2 and Estacada 21-1 (in five innings).

Williams (11 strikeouts, one walk) pitched a 3-hitter in the 3-1 win at Molalla. Nicole Schreiber (3-for-4) had a double and a triple, and she drove in all three of La Salle’s runs.

Williams fanned nine, walked one and allowed five hits in the 4-2 win over North Marion.

La Salle scored the winning run with two down in the bottom of the fourth, on a walk, an error and a run-scoring base hit by Chvilicek.

Williams (2-for-4) helped her own cause with a two-run home run in the first inning. Schreiber and Rylee Maben both went two-for-three at the plate.

The Falcons crushed the ball for 17 hits in the 21-1 rout of Estacada.

Goodman had a two-run home run and four RBI; Cook had a solo home run and three RBI; Schreiber went 3-for-3, with two doubles; freshman Jaden Gloden went 4-for-4, with three RBI and three runs scored.

As the No. 2 seed from the TVC, the Falcons will host a state playoff play-in game this Thursday.

Noting that his Falcons have been road warriors in the playoffs the last two season, La Salle coach Walt Stockfleth said, “It will be good to have some home-cookin.”

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