After a hot start in non-league play, Forest Grove drops its first Pacific Conference game of the year

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Forest Grove sophomore shortstop Sarah Hess (left) and sophomore second baseman Emily Peters both reach for a ground ball during Monday's Pacific Conference softball opener against Tualatin. The Lady Vikings lost the game 2-0.Forest Grove softball was rolling along with seven wins in its first eight games, but a pair of non-league losses to St. Helens and Clackamas, coupled with a 2-0 setback against Tualatin in both team’s Pacific Conference opener, suddenly has the Lady Vikings in the midst of a three-game skid.

Not to worry, says head coach Trevor Tusow.

“For the most part we’ve played pretty well,” he said. “We’ve lost three in a row, but we’ve played some pretty tough teams. We’re so young — we’ve grown a lot, but we still have some growing to do.”

Tusow’s young team dropped a 6-1 decision to St. Helens last Wednesday, then fell 9-7 to Clackamas on Friday in a strange game that was called after four-and-a-half innings when the facilities manager at Hood View Park kicked both teams off the field to accommodate slow-pitch softball leagues.

“It was too bad it ended that way, because it turned into a pretty good game,” said Tusow, whose team fell behind 9-1, but rallied with six runs before the game was ended early.

Those losses bled into Monday’s conference opener against Tualatin, when the Timberwolves pushed across two runs in the first inning and held on for a 2-0 victory.

Caitlyn Sung got things started with a leadoff single, Beth Fanger followed with another base hit and both runners came around to score on Ashlynn Schmitt’s two-out, two-run single to center field.

That was enough support for Tualatin sophomore pitcher Emily Sorem, who threw a complete game shutout while stranding nine Forest Grove baserunners.

“The frustrating thing was that we had baserunners in six out of the seven innings, we just could never get that big hit,” Tusow said. “We also hit into three double plays, and that’s tough. Those were rally killers.”

Forest Grove had six hits in the game, with Kira Hein, Molly Johnson, Iesha Johnson, Alexis Richey, Sarah Hess and Shelby Turner all collecting singles.

Turner pitched well, scattering nine hits without walking a batter, and she benefitted from some solid defensive support, including a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. With one out, second baseman Emily Peters fielded a grounder and threw home to prevent a run, and Thurman got out of the inning with another groundout.

“We made some plays on defense,” Tusow said. “Other than the first inning, Shelby did a good job of keeping (Tualatin) off the bases. They’re a solid team. They were picked to finish second in our league and they’ve got some kids who can hit the ball.”

Now Forest Grove must turn its attention to two more Pacific Conference games this week — at home against Tigard today, followed by a trip to Glencoe on Friday.

“They’re the clear-cut favorite to win our league,” Tusow said of Glencoe. “It will be a really good test for our girls to see where we’re at.

“Every game, win or lose, is a big learning process for us. So far they’ve done a good job and done everything we’ve asked of them.”

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