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Schultheis guides Crusaders to clutch win

Senior knocks in go-ahead run in fifth


by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit outfielder Alicia Taylor lays down a bunt in the third inning of the Crusaders 5-4 victory versus Southridge on Monday.

Ali Schultheis has developed a habit of coming through in crunch time.

When a game's anxiety level is at its apex, the senior second baseman has surmounted the circumstances and been there for Jesuit.

A week after hitting the go-ahead, game-changing homer against Beaverton, Schultheis was back at it in the clutch on Monday. With one out in the top of the sixth, Schultheis lifted a tie-breaking double over the Southridge left fielder with Emma Gordon on second to give Jesuit a 5-4 lead.

The Crusaders' defense — which gave up five unearned runs in an 8-7 loss to Westview on Friday — made the tough plays look routine in the final two innings to help pitcher Hailey Malin hold a 5-4 win over the Skyhawks and maintain Jesuit's second-place standing in Metro.

Schultheis said when Jesuit looks to her for a big hit, she tries to focus in even more at the plate and put a match to the Crusaders' fire. And, after giving up a 4-1 lead in the previous inning, the senior had the sense to soothe her young teammates with the deciding smack.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit starting pitcher Hailey Malin was strong in the circle for the Crusaders who pulled out a 5-4 win over Southridge on Monday.

“I know someone has to start it, so why not me?,” said Schultheis. “I knew if I saw a good pitch, I was going to hit it, and (Morgan Penn) gave me a good one I like. It's good to get the intensity and confidence back up on our team after the loss on Friday.”

Taylor credited Malin for holding Southridge to just one hit in the final two stanzas, while also giving a nod to the Crusader defense. In the bottom of the sixth after Southridge's Morgan Penn singled and moved to second base on an Erin Bonzer sacrifice bunt, Malin knocked down a screamer off the bat of Kalee Mabray, calmly fielded the ball in the circle and threw to first for the out. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit outfielder Erin Perry catches a pop up in foul territory for an out versus Southridge.

“I liked how we made the routine plays,” said Schultheis. “We didn't try to do anything too much with the ball. We did what we had to do.”

In the seventh, Southridge freshman catcher Brooke Johnson led off with a single. Then, freshman Kiana Kushiyama knocked a ball back up the box at Malin, who vacuumed the grounder, spun and threw to Kelsey Downey at second for the force out. With Johnson on first, Malin coaxed a groundout to Emma Gordon, who flipped the ball to Downey to get out the lead runner at second. Malin got Kylie Kushiyama to pop out in the infield for the final out.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit second baseman Ali Schulthesis catches a pop fly for an out against Southridge on Monday.

“Unlike the Westview game where it was close and we lost, we really wanted to come back from that and prove we can win a close game,” said junior outfielder Alicia Taylor. “We wanted to come back with intensity and energy.”

Southridge made a daring counter in the fifth after laboring to mount much of an attack against Malin. Johnson and Madison Weaver singled with one out, and junior shortstop Sophie Herman walked to load the bases. Kylie Kushiyama, the subsequent left-handed batter, plowed a fastball to right that scored Johnson and Weaver. Then, as the Crusader infield struggled to get the back in toward home plate, the speedy Herman high-tailed it home from first to even the score, 4-4.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge junior shortstop Sophie Herman tags out Jesuits Alicia Taylor for a force out.

“I wanted to make sure I was patient and waiting for the right pitch,” said Kushiyama. “When it was there, I hit it.

“We were encouraging each other too. That got the energy and the momentum going up. Then, we started to hit some more. And, it helped that (Herman) is a great baserunner.”

“This being our last week, we were like, 'We need to step up',” added Southridge junior outfielder Jenna Kelly. “We've been doing bad, so we needed to pick it up.”

Southridge has struggled of late, losing its last five games — two by a combined two runs. The Skyhawks committed two errors in the first inning that allowed Jesuit to jump to a 2-0 lead. McKenna Holmes' two-RBI single in the second after Emily Preble walked and Taylor got on with a bunt single, padded the advantage to 4-0.

“We came out kind of low, but we figured out we needed to start picking it up and get stronger,” said Kelly. “Defensively, Jesuit made some good plays, but we could've stepped up a little more. That's just how it goes."

With the playoffs kicking off next week, the postseason will provide a chance to start anew and wipe the slate clean for the Skyhawks.

“We have the talent,” said Kushiyama. “As long as we come out strong, keep pushing for it and want it, then we'll be good. We're trying to keep our energy up and finish out this season strong.”




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