Placer piles on, levels Lincoln

Hillgals put together five, six-run rallies against defending ?champs, improve to 2-2 in the PVL
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Kaelin Amrein showed composure beyond her years Wednesday afternoon while her fellow Hillgals showed a tenacity they haven’t had in years at the Placer High softball field. Placer thumped Lincoln 12-2 thanks to two spirited rallies and their freshman pitcher, who worked out of early trouble against the defending Pioneer Valley League champs. Lincoln squandered a prime scoring opportunity in the first inning. Placer went quietly in the first two innings but the bottom of the order got things started in the third. Kailey Gaffney’s single ignited the rally. She scored on a double by Abbie Strickland. Amrein struck the final blow of the third with an RBI-double and Placer built a 5-0 lead. Amrein let her guard down briefly when she returned to the pitcher’s circle in the fourth. Lincoln’s Kirstie Macqueen blasted a two-run home run to left field, but the Zebras managed just one hit the rest of the way and couldn’t break through against Amrein and the flawless defense behind her. “I was hitting my spots for the most part,” Amrein said. “I got a little lazy and it cost me, but I got it back on track after that.” Placer continued its onslaught at the plate in the bottom of the fourth. Claire Hansen led off with a single. Gaffney walked before consecutive hits by Taylor Hill, Abby Kendall, Brooke Stufflebean, Haley Tupen and Amrein. Tupen’s three-run triple highlighted the inning and when the dust settled it was 11-2. “We started out a little slow,” Placer coach Doug Menefee said. “We had a little talk and told them to be more aggressive. They started crowding the plate a little and going with the pitches. They’re doing a great job. Our seniors are stepping up and leading the team and everyone is believing.” The game ended in the fifth on the 10-run mercy rule as Kendall drew a bases-loaded walk to score Makenna Gaffney. The Hillgals (2-2 PVL, 9-3 overall) shook off a heart-breaking 6-5 loss to Center on Tuesday and took their frustrations out on the Zebras. “We just really wanted to win and come back from yesterday,” said Kendall, who was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Amrein finished 3-for-3 with two doubles to up her season total to seven. She said Placer, which hasn’t posted a winning record in more than 10 years, is riding high heading into Friday’s game at Foothill. “We have a lot of confidence,” Amrein said. “After beating Colfax and then beating a team that’s always so good in this league, that gives us the confidence to go into Foothill and play our best.” Jenna Knox warmed up briefly Wednesday, but didn’t pitch. She was still beaming after a one-hit gem against Colfax on Monday. It was the finest performance of her career with the Hillgals. “It was a fun game,” Knox said. “We were all really focused and really pumped up to play Colfax. We all stayed really upbeat the whole game.” Knox notched seven assists, fielding ground balls back to the mound, and walked just one on a borderline ball four call, according to Menefee. “She practically played the game all by herself,” the coach joked.