What a difference two years makes for Wilsonville's softball team.
The Wildcats, who in 2019 finished 5-20 and gave up an average of 15.4 runs per game, have started the season 5-0 behind Michigan-bound junior pitcher Maddie Erickson.
Erickson was on the team two years ago but did not pitch as she recovered from a knee injury that she suffered while wrestling. Now Erickson has become a dominant force for the Wildcats, who haven't had a winning season since 2013.
“I think you would've seen a lot of the same results last year, if we had a season,” Wilsonville coach Steve Harms said. “Unfortunately for her, her high school career has become condensed. She has college-level velocity. She's throwing in the mid-60s. She has good spin, too. Very good poise on the mound.”
Erickson opened the season with sterling performances in 5-0 wins over Putnam and Sandy, throwing a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts and a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts, respectively.
For the season, she is 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA. In 34 innings, she has allowed 11 hits, struck out 61 and walked nine. As the team's No. 3 hitter, she is batting .667 with two home runs and eight RBIs.
Harms said that Erickson hit a home run in Thursday's win at Clackamas that traveled about 270 feet into a parking lot beyond the left-field fence.
“She's got a big bat,” Harms said. “She hits the ball extremely hard. Great exit speed.”
The 5-foot-6 Erickson is a versatile athlete. She was a standout thrower in track before entering Wilsonville and excelled in wrestling. She also was the goalkeeper for the school's girls soccer team this year.
In softball, Erickson joined Wilsonville for the second half of her freshman season as a hitter, but as her knee mended, she was subbed out for pinch-runners. Now she is all the way back.
“She doesn't show any sign of having any issues,” Harms said. “She says she's fully recovered and feels great.”
Wilsonville is winning with only one senior on the roster in shortstop Kylie Hadden. The Wildcats' starting lineup features four freshmen in catcher Madeline Holly, right fielder Calli Weaving, center fielder Mary Matthews and third baseman Grace Wilson.
“The game for the freshmen is a little bit bigger, but we're working with them, and they're starting to perform and getting more relaxed,” Harms said.
The Wildcats are batting. 399 as a team and have outscored their opponents 48-6. Weaving is hitting .611 with a home run and 10 RBIs and Holly is batting .579 with a home run.
Wilsonville beat 5A Northwest Oregon Conference foes Putnam and Hillsboro (10-1 win) for the first time since 2013 and 2011, respectively. The Wildcats also dominated 6A Clackamas 13-2.
“It was huge,” Harms said of the win over Clackamas. “The kids are growing and responding to the level of play. I think Clackamas definitely was surprised, maybe shocked.”
Harms said the team's success is just a matter of having “more pieces to the puzzle.”
“With the exception of one senior, everyone will return next year,” he said. “I think we'll just get stronger and stronger. They're really good community kids. They've been playing and have experience. Their softball IQ is really high.”
Coming off its first state championship, 6A Sheldon has carried the momentum forward into 2021.
The Irish improved to 7-0 on Saturday by sweeping visiting North Medford 9-5 and 16-4, handing the Black Tornado (4-2) its first losses of the season.
In the first game, Sheldon pulled away with a four-run fifth inning. Junior Tori Leyba (3 for 4, double, three runs), junior Molly Blanchette (3 for 4, 2 RBIs), freshman Kinley Pappas (home run, 3 RBIs) led the offense and freshman Payton Burnham pitched a complete game, fanning eight.
In the nightcap, the Irish erupted for seven runs in the fifth inning and five runs in the sixth. Pappas had a big game with a home run, double and seven RBIs. senior Samantha Vinti went 4 for 4, junior Natalie Plough homered and drove in two runs and Blanchette (four innings) and Burnam (two innings) shared time in the circle.
Pappas has been on a tear to open the season, hitting .478 with a 1.043 slugging percentage. She has five doubles, a triple, two home runs and 19 RBIs.
Blanchette (.600, 12 RBIs), sophomore Aaliyah Gaboriault (.500, 13 runs, 5 for 5 on stolen bases), Leyba (.462, 13 runs) and Burnham (.455, home run, 11 RBIs) also are doing damage at the plate.
Burnam has struck out 38 in 21 innings and Blanchette has fanned 22 in 14 innings. They both ERAs of 2.00.
Marist Catholic junior Malia Williams has been nearly unhittable in the first two weeks of the season.
In 26 innings, Williams has allowed one hit for the Spartans (6-0). She has pitched four no-hitters, one of them a perfect game.
"As a pitcher, Malia has all the tools and is only getting better," Marist Catholic coach Stefan Schroffner said. "She already pitches nearly 60 mph and has full command of an increasing menu of pitch types.
"Malia is also one of the best fielding pitchers anywhere, so when you combine that with her pitching, and deep understanding of the game, she's a force to be reckoned with. I can definitely see her pitching at the collegiate level if that is what she wants to do."
The Spartans have not allowed an earned run in their first six games as opponents are hitting .079 against them. Senior Layla Martinez also recorded a shutout victory.
Marist Catholic not only lost 11 players from a team that went 24-4 and made the 4A quarterfinals in 2019 – including college players Ariel Carlson (Oregon) and Abby Doerr (Alabama) – but the team has a new coach. Schroffner, who also coaches the school's girls soccer team, has replaced Missy Doerr.
The Spartans are batting .530 and averaging 14.2 runs per game, led by Martinez (.708, one home run, 16 RBIs), Williams (.591, 10 RBIs), freshman Kellie Schroffner (.722, 12 RBIs), junior Chelsea Rustik (.476, one home run, 10 RBIs) and sophomore Paige Doerr (.478, four triples, 10 RBIs).
31 and counting
Clatskanie, the 3A champion in 2019, has extended its winning streak to 31 with a 4-0 start.
The Tigers opened with a 21-0, three-inning win over Seaside before sweeping three games against Warrenton, 19-1 on Tuesday and 12-0 and 15-4 on Friday.
Clatskanie's offense has been explosive. Against Seaside, the Tigers scored nine runs in the first inning and 10 runs in the third inning. In the first game against Warrenton, they scored 11 runs in the first inning.
Seniors Alexis Smith and Kaity Sizemore homered in the season opener. Senior Shelby Blodgett combined with Sizemore and sophomore Kylie Thomas for a five-inning no-hitter in the first game against Warrenton. Blodgett threw a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and went 2 for 2 with a double and two RBIs in the second game against Warrenton.
Hitting the mark
McLoughlin's Rikki Mark had a doubleheader to remember April 17 against Enterprise.
The junior shortstop went 6 for 8 with four home runs and eight RBIs. She hit two solo home runs, a two-run shot and a grand slam for the Pioneers, who split the two games.
JV streak ends
West Linn's junior varsity team had its winning streak snapped at 65 with a 6-3 loss at Tigard on Monday. It was the first defeat for the Lions since a March 2017 spring break game in California.
West Linn brought a 62-game streak into the season and won its first three games against Jesuit, Lake Oswego and Oregon City. The Lions led Tigard 2-1 before giving up five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tigers freshman Macy Witt closed out the Lions, finishing with a three-hitter.