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Just four days after knocking off the No. 1-ranked team in the state — on the road, no less — the Canby Cougar softball team notched yet another top-10 win, this time against a Three Rivers League opponent in the Tualatin Timberwolves.
The red-hot Cougars (11-2, 2-0 TRL) began their week with a dominant 5-1 win over the then-No. 1 Newberg Tigers, before blasting the Westview Wildcats (9-5) on Wednesday. After falling down 1-0 early on, the Cougars quickly rallied and led 6-2 by the end of the third inning.
In the game, Ella Kiehl — the junior catcher who recently returned to action after missing two weeks due to illness — totaled an impressive five RBIs on the day.
“It’s been great getting her back in the lineup,” Cougars coach Ty Kraft told the Current. “She is our 4 hitter and has a great bat for us. She is also really consistent behind the dish catching.”
Following Kiehl’s great game and a sixth straight win for the Cougs, the real test was the Friday home game against Tualatin (9-2, 0-1 TRL). The Timberwolves, who started the season with eight straight wins, came in fresh off of a 12-7 victory over Sunset.
As has been standard in most of the Cougars’ elite matchup, the game started as a pitcher’s duel. Senior Abigail Loomis, who would go on to throw 14 strikeouts, allowed just one baserunner in the first three innings. Loomis struck out five in the opening innings, but still credited her team for the confidence.
“It feels good knowing that my team has my back and that they don’t just rely on me,” Loomis said. “I can rely on them. We have great team chemistry, which I think plays a big part. I trust my team to have my back.”
Canby’s defense finally allowed one run in the fourth inning when Leanna Rosenbaum scored on a passed ball. Trailing 1-0, the Cougars did the same thing they did against Westview — rallied quickly.
After four scoreless innings for the Cougs, the offense broke things open in the fifth. After Madi Bigej singled, star Ava Carroll stepped to the plate. The junior has been lightning in a bottle on offense this season, totaling an astounding 21 hits in 36 plate appearances.
That .700 batting average is good for the best mark in the entire state, regardless of classification.
Carroll made sure her stats stayed pure with an RBI triple to tie the game up. And, just two at-bats later, Kenna Kraft drove in both Carroll and Natalie Just to give Canby a 3-1 lead.
The fifth inning would be the only frame in which Canby scored — but thanks to Loomis’ elite arm and the Cougs’ stout defense, that would be plenty. Loomis once again turned on the jets, allowing one more baserunner on the day to help her team leave with a win — their seventh in a row.
“[Abigail’s] pitching has been a huge reason we are having the success we are having,” Kraft said. “She averaged almost 12 strikeouts per game this past week.”
Loomis’ huge week helped the Cougars catapult into the standings. Currently, Canby sits in the No. 2 spot in the state after two more top-10 wins on the season.
So far, the Cougars have played No. 3 Newberg, No. 4 McMinnville and No. 5 Bend (their only two losses this year), and No. 6 Tualatin. The only team in the top six they have not played is the new No. 1 Tigard — a fellow TRL foe they’ll face on April 27.
As for the Cougars’ ace, she views the tough slate of games as a way that Canby has proven themselves.
“I think looking at our stats from last year, no one was expecting much from us,” Loomis told the Current. “But, we have been working hard with our coaches and trying to go one game at a time. We’re very lucky to have such invested coaches, which only makes us work harder to get a win.”
The Cougars kicked off another week of league play with another close win, 3-2, on the road in Lakeridge, extending the streak to eight. They’ll travel to Southridge for a non-league tilt Wednesday before wrapping up the road trip Friday in Lake Oswego.
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