5A Softball playoff with Hermiston dampened by steady downpour

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - It was a muddy mess by the time Wednesday's 5A state playoff game with Hermiston at St. Helens was called in the fourth inning. Michelle Sass send up a bit of Turface after stealing third base. The two teams resumed play Thursday at the Hood View Sports Complex. Hermiston, a 3-1 winner in the game, advanced to a quarterfinal game against Liberty, an upset winner over No. 1-ranked Pendleton.The St. Helens Lady Lions fell behind visiting Hermiston on Wednesday in a heavy rain, and couldn't recoup the lost runs in the completion of the game at the Hood River Sports Complex in Clackamas on Thursday.

The Lady Lions gave up three unearned runs on Wednesday, and scored one, missing several opportunities to tie the game.

They just couldn't come up with the firepower they needed on Thursday to get the job done in the 3-1 loss.

To make it worse for St. Helens, they learned Wednesday that their potential next opponent, No. 1-ranked Pendleton, had lost to Liberty on Wednesday, 9-2. Pendleton is in the same league at Hermiston, and beat them three times during the season. Liberty is in the same league as St. Helens and the Lady Lions beat them twice.

St. Helens and Hermiston started their contest on Wednesday in St. Helens amid a steady drizzle. The rain let up a bit, but then started getting worse, and by the fourth inning had turned the field into a muddy-Turface quagmire.

The rain had started earlier in the week, but St. Helens had kept the field covered with a tarp until just before game time. The infield was playable at the start, but it was a little soggy in the outfield.

Both teams struggled at times with the conditions as the game got under way, but it was St. Helens that suffered the most score-wise.

Hermiston’s Allie Rude led off with a walk, and was safely bunted to second. A dropped ball at short put another runner on base, and then hard-hit fly was dropped in the outfield, allowing a run toscore. Melina Rodriguez then tapped a double out to drive in another run.

St. Helens pitch Mariah Mulcahy then shut the door hard with a strike out.

The Lady Lions responded in the bottom of the first when Michelle Sass walked. Ashley Giesbers then bunted her to second and was safe on an errant throw to first. The error allowed the runners to advance. Sue Sass followed with a long sacrifice fly to center that her Sister tagged up on and scored. The Lady Lions couldn’t get a hit in the next two batters to score the tying run.

St. Helens got out of trouble in the second, retiring the side after a walk and an error put runners on second and third. Mulcahy struck out the next two batters.

Taylor Leal had a big double and moved to third on a passed ball in the bottom of the inning, but St. Helens could send her home.

St. Helens again got out of trouble in the third as another error put a runner on first, and a second runner was safe on an attempted fielder’s choice at third.

Michelle Sass threatened to tie up the game in the bottom of the inning. She walked, stole second and third, but couldn’t get home.

Hermiston used another walk, and another dropped outfield fly to score a third run in the fourth inning. St. Helens retired them after that, but didn’t get to bat in the bottom of the frame.

The Lady Lions were trying to dry out the field but the heavy rainfall made it a futile effort.

The game was first scheduled for the Hood View Sports Complex in Clackamas at noon, but moved up to 11 a.m. in case wet weather forced them to move again.

The game was the first round of the 5A state playoffs. St. Helens had received a bye from the play-in round. Hermiston posted a 3-1 win over Sherwood.

The winner is slated for a playoff game on Friday, but wet weather could cause a delay in that as well. There is the possibility and probably liklihood that it would be played on a turf JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Sue Sass looks for a call during Wednesday's game with Hermiston. The Lady Lions lost the contest and Hermiston hosted Liberty on Friday.

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