Pitching powers Irrigon past Weston-McEwen softball

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ATHENA - Noelle Wright pitched nine shutout innings and scored the winning run as Irrigon edged Weston-McEwen 1-0 here Wednesday afternoon in a Blue Mountain Conference softball game.

The league-leading Knights pushed their BMC record to 8-1 with the victory in a game played in gusty but dry conditions one day after a heavy rainstorm forced a 24-hour postponement. Weston-McEwen dipped to 3-5 in league games and 8-9 overall.

Wright, Irrigon's ace, struck out 14 TigerScots, walked just one and scattered four hits over the first four innings. She retired the final 16 batters she faced in outdueling Weston-McEwen's Haley Freske, who also went the distance, struck out four, walked three and yielded six hits.

Irrigon tallied the game's only run in the ninth inning when Wright reached first on an infield single, took second on a wild pitch and raced home on Alesha Mego's soft single that fell into shallow right-center field.

TigerScots coach Jeff Griggs said his team missed on several scoring opportunities early in the contest.

In the second inning, Carly Graves struck out but reached first when Irrigon's catcher failed to handle strike three. Freske followed with single that sent Graves to second base, but that's where the threat ended.

In the third, Morgan Entze singled, Sydney Porter put down a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball allowed Entze to reach third base. But an infield out ended the inning.

Claire Ely's second base hit of the game came in the fourth inning, but she never advanced beyond first base.

"I can't say we ever threatened after that," Griggs said. "Noelle Wright has pitched a lot of doubleheaders, and she threw better in the second half of this game than she did in the first half."

Griggs was pleased with his defense, that made just one error over the nine-inning affair. He credited outfielders McKenzie Fuhrman and Shaelin Youncs for making run-saving catches in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively, and Entze and Graves came up with important throwing plays on the infield that helped snuff out Irrigon scoring threats.

"I think," Griggs said, "that this was our best defensive game of the year."

And noting that Irrigon swept Weston-McEwen 4-0 and 9-2 in an earlier doubleheader on the Knights field, Griggs said, "I think we're showing a lot of improvement."

The TigerScots get their next chance to show that improvement Saturday when they travel to Pilot Rock for an 11 a.m. doubleheader against the BMC's seocnd-place team.

Irrigon 000 000 001 - 1 6 0

W-M 000 000 000 - 0 4 1

Noelle Wright and Stacie Stangier; Haley Freske and Morgan Entze.

Hits - Irrigon: Shock, Wright, Kaufman, Mego, M. Stangier, Cadek; W-M: Entze, Freske, Ely 2.

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