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Aloha softball cruises past Canby, advances to second round

Sometimes all it takes is a bit of adversity to get a good team going.

Such was the case at Aloha High School on Monday as the Warriors softball team exploded to erase a 1-0 deficit with a six-run fourth inning. From there, Aloha cruised to a 6-2 Memorial Day victory over visiting Canby in the first round of the 2014 OSAA 6A Softball State Championship.

Aloha junior pitcher Courtney Coombs was on top of her game early as she retired the first 11 Cougar batters she faced before surrendering back-to-back doubles by Canby sluggers Aunika Turner and Colleen Crutchfield which gave the Cougars their short-lived lead.

“I knew they were a good team and wanted to get ahead of their hitters,” Coombs said. “My rise ball was working well today.”The Warriors right-hander scattered five hits, struck out three, allowed just one earned run, and, perhaps most importantly, did not walk a Canby batter.

If Aloha was worried about falling behind, it certainly didn’t show.

“None of us want to quit now,” said Warriors senior Shelby Ratcliffe. “We just said don’t give up and let’s get something started and push one (run) across. Six was even better.”

After squandering a bases loaded, one-out opportunity in the second inning, the floodgates opened for Aloha in the bottom half of the fourth.

Ratcliffe began the Warriors rally when she opened the inning with a base on balls. Sophomore catcher McKenzie Siebert followed by lining an RBI triple into the right-center field gap that plated Ratcliffe to tie the game at one. Another sophomore, Taylor Clark, followed with a looping single just over the head of Cougars second baseman Alyssa Branscum. Siebert scored and just like that Aloha had the lead.

After a base hit by senior Alyssa Locke and a sacrifice bunt by Coombs, Warriors second baseman Emily Powers hit a sharp ground ball to Canby shortstop Gina Bond who - perhaps unwisely - tried to get a sliding Taylor at home but her throw was late and Aloha was up 3-1. Locke then scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1.

Ratcliffe added a run-scoring single and Siebert drew a bases-loaded walk to cap off the big inning, which saw 12 Warriors come to the plate.

““We needed to be patient,” Siebert added. “We knew with the hitters we have that we could come back. We feed off each other when we get going.”

Feed off each other they did as four of Aloha’s five hits came during its decisive outburst. The Warriors also patiently drew eight walks in the contest.

Ratcliffe finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk, run and RBI while Siebert had a pair of runs batted in.

Despite being the higher seed Monday, Warriors Head Coach Scott Coombs was not looking past Canby.

“We don’t take it for granted that anything is automatic,” he said.

The coach was also pleased with his team’s mindset to respond after falling behind and the performance of his starting pitcher.

“Courtney pitched well,” he concluded. “She located her pitches and got ahead of hitters.”

Aloha played at Glencoe in Wednesday’s second round.




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