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Wood, Aloha clinch share of Metro crown

Already crowned as a Metro League Champion in 2011, Aloha softball pitcher Kiana Wood wanted one more Metro banner, another starry footnote on her already sparkling resume.

Wood cemented her legacy as one of the best 6A pitchers in the state long ago. But as a senior, she didn’t want to play second fiddle to the young Wildcats in the league’s hierarchy.

It’s with this self-determination that Wood took the circle against Southridge on Friday, fully aware the Warriors needed to win to claim a share of the Metro title along with Westview.

Suffice to say, the lithe lefty didn’t disappoint.

The stingy southpaw struck out eight Skyhawks, allowed just five hits and walked two batters in a complete game 6-2 win that gave Aloha (11-4, 16-7) a split of the Metro championship. The Warriors scored two important runs in the sixth off an Emily Powers’ RBI single and Courtney Coombs’ sacrifice fly and erupted for four additional scores in the seventh. Six runs was more than enough for Wood to work with.

“I was just ready to win. I wanted the Metro title. It’s big — we’re really happy,” Wood said.

Aloha started the season 0-3, primarily because the Warriors took on a murderer’s row for a preseason schedule, playing South Salem, McNary and Tualatin in the first trio of games.

It’s not how you start, though, it’s how you finish — especially in Metro. Aloha finished the year on a tear, winning eight of its last nine games to clinch half of the league title, its second in three years.

“We worked really hard for it, and we had a rough start (at the start of the season) and pulled through at the end,” said Powers. “I think we can go really far in the playoffs if we keep playing like we’re playing and keep working hard.”

Wood called upon her curveball, rise ball and change-up in quintessential fashion in the first six innings, sitting down Skyhawk after Skyhawk with unpitying precision.

“Mainly everything was working,” said Wood. “Not one thing was weak today. I try to go for the same thing over and over when I’m on the mound. I don’t get too high or low.”

In the top of the sixth, Wood was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Katie Buchannan and Ali Locke singled to load the bases.

The left-handed Powers then looped a low liner to left field. After a compelling effort by Skyhawk outfielder Madie Weaver, who almost snowconed the ball off the tips of the grass, the ball plunged to the lawn to hand Aloha a 1-0 lead.

“My coach was talking to me about how I should hit the first pitch because it was a fastball,” explained Powers. “We were struggling with the change-up and the slower pitching, so I just had the mindset that I was going to hit the ball as far and as hard as I could.

“At the beginning of the game, our coach told us to think about what we’re going to do at the plate and always have that mindset of where you’re going to hit and do when you get up there.”

Powers and Buchannan each tacked on a RBI single in the seventh, and Locke’s two-run double amplified the advantage to 6-0.

“Once one person gets a hit, it’s kind of like a relay for the rest of us, and we just go with it and join in with each other,” said Powers. “I know Kiana feels like we’re supporting her behind her. We always try to let her know that we’re there for her.”

Southridge found a small measure of success in the seventh, scoring twice and mounting a bases loaded rally with two outs. Britney Bradley doubled and later scored on a RBI single.

“We came ready to play, and we wanted to win, but we didn’t come through hitting,” said Southridge freshman Kylie Myers. “Kiki (Wood) is really fast, and she moves the ball really well. She’s a good pitcher, and we struggled at the plate, but we’ll get through in the playoffs I think.

“As long as the team comes together, and we have the determination that we need and push it, I think we’ll have a good chance.”

Yet, with the bases full, Wood cajoled an everyday groundball for the final out of the contest. With six runs in the bank for Aloha, the margin for error was substantial.

Runs will be harder to come by in the playoffs when opposing pitchers are locked and loaded just like Wood, but if Aloha can scratch out three or four a game in the postseason, then the senior can do the rest.

“That definitely takes the load off my shoulders, especially when there’s a girl on second or third,” said Wood. “I already know we have enough runs, so if they score, it’s not a big deal.”

She’s been to the 6A quarterfinals. She’s carried her team to the brink of the 6A state championship game. Now, Wood and the Warriors want a ring and won’t rest until they get it.

“I’m ready for the playoffs, definitely ready,” said Wood. “I think we can go far. These girls are really determined.”



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