Big day of offense boosts Bears' morale

Olympia 15, Timberline 5: Schroeder, Braniff lead way at plate in fastpitch win that helps atone for Friday's crushing loss to Gig Harbor

April 12, 2011 

LACEY - Olympia needed a bounce-back win in a big way.

After a loss to Gig Harbor on Friday that ended on a walk-off home run – in a game the Bears led by as many as five runs – a win was needed to boost the players’ confidence.

There’s nothing like a season-high run total to jolt morale. That’s what the Bears got in a 15-5 fastpitch victory over Timberline on Monday afternoon.

“We definitely needed this win,” said sophomore catcher Nikki Schroeder, who was 3-for-4 with three RBI. “It’s good for our team, and I’m glad we did it.”

Schroeder was one of two Bears to have a multi-hit game. Gabby Braniff – who was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run in the fifth – reached base fives times on two errors and a walk. Schroeder and Braniff accounted for five of Olympia’s 10 hits.

“We know we’re a good team, and we need to eventually prove that by beating teams that are established and strong teams in the Narrows League,” said Olympia coach Matt Loes, who saw his team lose, 11-10, to the Tides on a two-run homer. “We’re not going to take anyone lightly.”

The rust of not playing since March 24 crept up on Timberline (3-2) in the early going. The Blazers committed four of their six errors in the first two innings, leading to five unearned runs for Olympia and a quick 6-1 deficit.

The Bears, who never trailed, used a six-run fifth inning to lead 14-5.

The Bears (5-3) sent nine batters to the plate in the fifth and scored three of their six runs with one out. A walk, consecutive hits by Mackenzie Loete (single) and Kelsey Randich (two-RBI double), and an error led to three runs. After Schroeder hit her second of three singles, the capper of the inning came when Braniff smashed the first pitch she saw from Timberline pitcher Ellie Jones to left-center field for a two-run homer that gave Olympia a 14-5 lead.

“We couldn’t do the fundamentals – catch and throw – and that’s what killed us,” Timberline coach Sonya Ramos said. “I think if we caught the ball and threw it, we would’ve come out with a win.”

Jones, a sophomore, struck out three and walked six in her varsity debut. She was called up from the junior varsity to fill in for sophomore Rebecca Nelson, who had pitched in Timberline’s previous four games.

Nelson is nursing a back injury, and Ramos said she hopes to have Nelson back for Wednesday’s game against Shelton or Friday’s game against Foss.

“Ellie did a really good job,” Ramos said. “She was very composed. She did her job on the mound, and I was pleased with that.”

Loete, Olympia’s pitcher, gave up five runs on seven hits and struck out six to pick up the win. She gave up three extra-base hits, including a triple to catcher Gatalina Schuster, who went 3-for-4.

Schuster and Kiley Hanratty singled and walked, respectively, in the third and scored both of the Blazers’ runs that inning to cut the deficit to 6-4.

Loete limited Timberline to one more run – on an error in the fourth – on three hits over the final three innings.

“This is going to bring us up and be ready for Yelm on Wednesday,” Schroeder said.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473

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