Spartans snap a 20-game losing streak and get their first league victory in two seasons

Last week, the Hilhi softball time found itself in a new position for the 2013 season.

On a win HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hillsboro sophomore Emalyn Weislogel delivers a pitch during last Friday's 8-3 conference victory over crosstown rival Century.

In a spring in which victories have been tough to come by, the Spartans rattled off two in a row last week, knocking off Tigard 6-4 on Wednesday before defeating crosstown rival Century 8-3 two days later. Coupled with an 11-1 loss against Forest Grove on Tuesday, the wins brought Hilhi’s record to 3-21 for the season, and 2-11 in the Pacific Conference.

Significantly, the win against the Tigers snapped a 20-game losing streak and was the first in league play in two seasons for the program.

Against the Jaguars, pitcher Emalyn Weislogel gave up five hits in the first two innings but no more the rest of the way, when the Spartans’ defense proved up to the task of turning balls put into play into outs.

“I feel like the team played really well, and we were really looking forward to this game, because we almost won last time,” Weislogel said, referring to Hilhi’s 4-3 loss in nine innings at Century on April 18. “We all came together and really worked hard and scored a lot of runs, which was exciting.”

The Spartans’ taste of success has come while the team has been adjusting to a new coach. Stacey Hutchinson, who had been serving as the program’s junior varsity coach, took over the head spot after Mike McCallen resigned on April 16 for what Hilhi athletic director Steve Drake said were personal reasons.

Hutchinson is a 2002 graduate of Skyview in Vancouver, Wash. She helped the Storm win a Washington Class 3A state title in 2001.

Aside from not knowing information like which pitches the Spartans’ pitchers threw and the team’s signs, Hutchinson felt ready for her new position.

“Other than that, I felt prepared to step into a head coaching role. That’s been my goal,” Hutchinson, 29, said last Friday. “I’ve been a head coach for ... high-level summer ball, so in that sense I felt prepared. The other part of it was making sure it was still a positive experience for the girls, because that can be emotional.

“Whatever the reason is that something like that happens, it’s a weird transition.”

Hutchinson’s first game as head coach was that road loss to Century. But the Jaguars found themselves facing a different team in the rematch.

“We just tried to change our approach a little bit, be a little more disciplined in what we’re doing,” Hutchinson said about her philosophy. “We kind of changed our approach at the plate, being more aggressive early in the counts, things like that.

“I told them, ‘The only two things you can control is your attitude and your effort. That’s the only thing.’ And so we’ve really focused on that and tried to be a little more disciplined in what we’re doing.”

On Friday, the Spartans and Jaguars took turns scoring through the first two innings before Hilhi emerged with a 4-3 lead. In the first, Century pushed Allie Kenfield across the plate on Morgan Miller’s groundout before Hilhi answered with an RBI double from Kelly Royster to score Madison Staub and another run by Lisa Ellis on a wild pitch.

In the second inning, the Jaguars fired back on Kenfield’s two-RBI double along the right field line, which drove in Leighanna O’Connor and Amber O’Connor.

But from there, it was all Hilhi. In the bottom half of the inning, the Spartans reclaimed the lead on Weislogel’s two-RBI triple that rolled back to the fence in left field, scoring Ashley Loberger and Erika Goonan.

The Spartans added a run in the fourth after a Century throwing error allowed Loberger to beat the tag attempt at home plate. After allowing just one Jaguar on base in the next two innings — Weislogel induced four batters into outs on pop-ups and had a strikeout during that period — Hilhi padded its lead with a three-run sixth inning to ice the game.

Royster and Tiff Demezas hit back-to-back doubles into the outfield, with Royster getting two RBIs before coming in on Demezas’ hit to center field.

For the game, in addition to the five hits, Weislogel walked two, struck out four and hit one batter in seven innings of work.

“Emalyn pitched a great game,” Hutchinson said. “She’s been throwing well for us for the three weeks I’ve been here. She’s really working inside and outside, and we’re trying to mix it up, and she throws an off-speed that throws hitters off. The fact that she has command of inside and outside, we can kind of play around a little bit with that.”

Weislogel’s opponent on the mound, Corey Sacks, gave up eight hits and seven walks, hit two and struck out two in six innings.

For Century coach Charlie Schlottmann, he felt that some errors by his players contributed to the outcome. The Jaguars (6-17, 2-11 Pacific Conference) count just three seniors on their roster this season.

“They’ve got to learn the game,” Schlottmann noted. “They’ve got to learn how to play the game. Right now, they’re too young.”

The Spartans also are young. They will graduate just one senior off of this year’s team — Janessa Gray, who went 2-for-4 in the win against Tigard — so the prospect of more victories is on the horizon.

“Down the road, I think our program is really building,” Weislogel said. “It’s been rough, but I think everybody’s really looking forward to next year and I’m really excited.

“We’re going to keep working hard all year and just see what happens.”

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