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Visiting Irish gain split with S'side Christian girls

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Janelle DeGroot pops a pitch from DeSales hurler Ashlynn Lyons towards the outfield in the first game of yesterday's non-league doubleheader hosted by the Sunnyside Christian Lady Knights. DeGroot got her one and only hit on the day, a single, in the twin bill finale.

Tuesday's opener went to the visiting DeSales Irish, a 1-0 pitcher's duel. The nightcap, however, belonged to the Sunnyside Christian High School Lady Knights, who behind sophomore Grace den Hoed's 3-for-3 offensive performance eked out a 3-1 victory.

The non-league doubleheader split leaves the 1B Sunnyside Christian girls softball team with an overall mark of 13-2 on the season. For the DeSales Irish, unbeaten in 2B conference play this spring, yesterday's loss in the twin bill finale was just its fifth defeat of the year.

DeSales, a small Catholic school in Walla Walla, got the only run it needed in game one in the top of the first inning. The Irish's lead-off batter reached base on an error, the only miscue committed by the Lady Knights in Tuesday's opener, then scampered to second on a passed ball. The DeSales base runner moved to third and then to home on consecutive groundouts.

For Irish hurler Ashlynn Lyons, that one run proved to be all she would need to collect the victory. Lyons twirled a gem, a two-hitter, while fanning nine and walking none in earning the 1-0 win.

The two hits the Lady Knights coaxed from Lyons both were off the bat of senior Julie Long...singles in the first and sixth innings. Long got as far as the second base bag in the first frame and made it all the way to third in the bottom of the sixth, but in both instances was left stranded.

Sunnyside Christian Coach Sandy Harris said Lyons brought a pretty decent fastball to the plate. "We were swinging behind it quite a few times," she said. "When we did make contact the ball usually was right at somebody."

The opening game shutout sustained by the Lady Knights ruined what Harris described as hurler Ashley Haak's best pitching effort of the season. Haak scattered four hits in the seven-inning affair, walking only one while striking out four DeSales batters.

"Ashley was moving the ball around well and hitting her spots," said Harris. "Definitely one of her best performances this season."

Game two yesterday both coaches went with different pitchers. There ended up being a few more hits than in the opener, nine total, but like in the first game there wasn't all that much scoring.

It looked like déjà vu all over again when the Irish forged a 1-0 lead with a single tally in the top of the second. Allie Zander worked a single off freshman pitcher Makayla Morrow, then took advantage of a passed ball and a groundout to advance to third. Megan Hamoda then cracked the second single of the frame to score Zander.

The score remained 1-0 in favor of the Irish, thanks to some pretty nifty pitching from DeSales hurler Amanda Warnick, until the Lady Knights came to bat in the bottom of the fifth. That's when Analisa Van Oostrum got things going for Sunnyside Christian by cracking a lead-off single. Van Oostrum got thrown out at second on a fielder's choice off the bat of Janelle DeGroot, but two consecutive errors by DeSales loaded the bases. The sophomore den Hoed then stepped to the plate and delivered big time, lashing a two-run single to give her club a 2-1 lead. Long, the second Christian batter to reach base on an error in the inning, plated the final run of the frame when the DeSales catcher let a Warnick pitch get by her for a passed ball.

Of the five hits the Lady Knights managed off Warnick in the nightcap, all singles, three were by den Hoed, one by Van Oostrum and the other by DeGroot.

Morrow, the freshman, went one better than her DeSales counterpart, Warnick, by allowing the Irish just four hits in the second contest. The underclassman did issue three free passes but got two of the DeSales players to go down on strikes.

Overall yesterday, said Harris, she wasn't all that unhappy in coming away with a split.

"DeSales is a pretty solid club. We played some of our best ball so far this season," she said.

Sunnyside Christian will take on another big challenge this coming Thursday when the 1A Goldendale Timberwolves breeze into town for yet another non-league doubleheader. The opening game, said Harris, is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

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