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PREP SOFTBALL: Central still in playoff hunt with five Oregon West Conference games left

INDEPENDENCE -- No, the Central softball team was unable to put a chink into the armor of the Oregon West Conference's unbeaten leader, Newport.

Central’s Maddy Pape, left, makes the catch at first base to get Newport’s Makiah Johnson out in Monday’s OWC contest.

Photo by Anthony Thurston

Central’s Maddy Pape, left, makes the catch at first base to get Newport’s Makiah Johnson out in Monday’s OWC contest.

May 01, 2013

INDEPENDENCE -- No, the Central softball team was unable to put a chink into the armor of the Oregon West Conference's unbeaten leader, Newport.

But that doesn't mean the Panthers aren't still in a prime position for the postseason entering the last part of league play.

"The No. 1 thing is to hopefully solidify a playoff spot," Central coach Amber McLean said of her squad's goals with five conference games left.

"We need two more wins to do that."

The Panthers dropped two games to the Cubs (17-3, 10-0, No. 3 in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 4A power rankings), falling 5-0 on the road Friday and then 4-1 in Monday's game in Independence.

Despite the setbacks, Central remains in second place in the league standings, two games ahead of Stayton, which the Panthers defeated April 24, 3-2.

Although Monday's game was a loss, McLean noted that her team did indeed play better against one of the top pitchers in the state, Newport's Kristin Cochran.

Friday, the Panthers (10-9, 7-3) had just one hit and one base runner -- via a single from Briana Broadus. Monday, Central had six base runners and three hits -- led by Kelsi Christenson's eighth home run of the season.

Central’s Alexxa Gonzalez makes a catch in right field Monday.

Photo by Anthony Thurston

Central’s Alexxa Gonzalez makes a catch in right field Monday.

"She's the best pitcher we've faced so far," McLean said of Cochran. "Our hitters were just trying to lay off her rise ball, and she throws harder than anyone we've faced."

Christenson broke the school record for home runs in a season with her long ball in Central's win over Stayton April 24, and Gonzalez sealed the victory with a thrilling play in right field.

With an Eagles base runner threatening to score from third base with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Gonzalez caught a fly ball, then fired a throw home to Kylie Nash, who tagged the runner out to end the game.

"Getting two wins over Stayton was very big for our season," McLean said, referring to Central's thrilling 4-3 win April 22 on Jenny Cole's walk-off home run.

Central also dropped a nonleague game to Henley Saturday, 7-6. The Panthers fell behind 6-0 in the contest before tying the game and forcing it to 10 innings.

Brittney Bettles went 3 for 5 with a double against the Hornets, ranked No. 12 in the Class 4A power rankings.

Class 5A

DALLAS WINNERS OF 13 IN A ROW: The Dragons (18-2, 15-1 Mid-Willamette Conference) continued their winning ways last week with three victories, as Dallas defeated Crescent Valley 7-6 April 23, South Albany 8-1 April 24 and Silverton 13-3 Friday. Julie Postma picked up all three wins in the circle to improve to 16-2 on the year while currently holding a stingy 1.94 ERA. The senior also led Dallas -- ranked No. 4 in the Oregon School Activities Association power rankings and tied for first in the MWC with West Albany -- at the plate, finishing the three games 6 for 9 with seven RBI and two doubles. Caitlyn McCarron added three hits and seven RBI -- including her sixth home run of the season in the win over Crescent Valley -- while Dani Ackerman (four hits, three RBI) and Sophie Hess (four hits) wrapped up Dallas' highlights. The Dragons will travel to West Albany for the final time this regular season on Friday with the regular-season title up for grabs.

Class 2A-1A

PERRYDALE DROPS FIRST LEAGUE GAME: After winning their first five Special District 3 games this season, the Pirates have dropped two straight with losses to Central Linn and Kennedy last week. Perrydale (8-4, 5-2) fell to Central Linn 5-3 April 24, where Bryce Baucum led the Pirates with a double. Friday, the Pirates fell behind early in a 6-3 loss to Kennedy, where Brooke Barnes tallied a double. Despite the two setbacks, Perrydale remains in a three-way tie for first place in Special District 3 with Regis (5-2) and Western Mennonite (5-2).

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