Wildcats finish preseason on seven-game slide

Twelve innings of excitement culminated in one run of disappointment.

The Wilsonville softball team turned in what first-year coach Mick Johnson called the best defensive performance of the season, making the final score even tougher to stomach.

In the first game of an April 11 doubleheader on the road against Hermiston, the Wildcats fell 1-0 in a prolonged thriller.

“It was a wonderful game,” Johnson said. “The outcome wasn’t what we were hoping for, but the effort was.”

Perhaps deflated by the result, Wilsonville wrapped up its preseason slate with a 10-1 loss in the second game against the Bulldogs.

The doubleheader capped a challenging nonconference slate for the Wildcats (2-10), who were on a seven-game skid entering their April 15 league opener at home against Milwaukie. The difficult stretch included four-straight setbacks against Class 6A teams and three losses by two runs or fewer.

“Our schedule allows us to go into conference play knowing we can be successful,” Johnson said. “It’s going to take good pitching, good defense and getting our bats heated up a little. Our schedule has been a challenge, but it hasn’t been anything we couldn’t handle.”

Wilsonville’s week began with a disappointing 5-4 loss to Tigard at home April 7. In that game, pitcher Lauren Bell gave up just one earned run in six innings, McKenzie Atwood went 2-for-2 with two RBI and Sarah Harms added two doubles with one RBI.

“Defense was our problem,” Johnson said. “We were capable of winning that game, but we didn’t play good defense. We had too many errors. Tigard is a good team, but we assisted them.”

Two days later, the Wildcats were overwhelmed by West Linn in a 14-0 loss at home. Skyler Matthews led the team with two hits.

“West Linn is a team that’s very capable, and we didn’t measure up that day for what was needed,” Johnson said. “We had girls hitting the ball, but the defense let us down.”

After giving up 19 runs combined to Tigard and West Linn, however, Wilsonville was much sharper in its 12-inning marathon at Hermiston.

Harms had an exemplary performance in the circle, going 11 2/3 innings without a walk, and the defense didn’t commit any errors the entire game.

Hermiston pushed across the only run when Ashley Moser’s two-out single brought home Abi Drotzmann, who had advanced to second base after reached first on a one-out single.

Wilsonville’s most promising offensive opportunity came in the top of the 10th inning, when Bell tried scoring from first on a double by Karlin McNiel. She was tagged out at the plate after a strong relay throw by Hermiston.

The Wildcats responded with clutch defense in the bottom of the frame, when Hermiston (4-7) advanced a runner to third with one out. On an ensuing grounder, Morgan Miller checked the runner at third and made a strong throw to first baseman Stephanie Stamnes.

Stamnes then fired the ball to catcher Katie Enbody, who tagged out the runner from third to end the inning on a double play.

“Everybody performed admirably,” Johnson said. “We just weren’t able to push across a run.”

In the second game, Harms started in the circle again because Bell was unavailable due to a heat-related illness.

Wilsonville managed to score in the first inning but struggled to manufacture offense the rest of the way. It gave up double-digit runs for the third time in six games.

The Wildcats’ nonconference wins came against Bonanza and Philomath during tournament play in Bend.

“We’re hoping to start off league properly,” Johnson said.

By Jeff Goodman
Sports editor
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