Sophomore Maddy Sagapolutele hit three home runs in her second game with Gresham. (Photo by Erin Gardenhire)
Sophomore Maddy Sagapolutele hit three home runs in her second game with Gresham. (Photo by Erin Gardenhire)

If any questions existed about Maddy Sagapolutele's power because her 14 home runs last year came mostly against 4A pitching, she has answered them this season.

Sagapolutele, the 4A softball player of the year in helping lead The Dalles to a state championship as a freshman, has continued to terrorize pitchers after transferring to 6A Gresham as a sophomore.

Entering the week, Sagapolutele is hitting .500 with a state-leading 14 home runs and 35 RBIs for the Gophers (10-9, 4-2 Mt. Hood Conference). She has done it against a steady diet of 6A pitching.

“I think there was an adjustment, and I think she's accelerated through that adjustment,” Gresham coach Jim Gardenhire said. “I feel like she's elevated her hitting a little bit. Our schedule is pretty tough.”

It didn't take long for Sagapolutele to make a splash, hitting three home runs in the team's second game, a 9-6 win at Roseburg. And it didn't take long for 6A pitchers to get the message, with Roseburg intentionally walking her in the second game of the doubleheader.

The arrival of Sagapolutele provided a jolt for Gresham. Many of the Gophers played with her in the Gresham-based Rise Softball Club after her cousin – The Dalles junior Despina Seufalemua – invited her to join the team a couple years ago.

“There was excitement, raised expectations,” Gardenhire said. “We came in feeling pretty good about our outlook for the season. I'm excited to have her. She's a fun kid to have on a team.”

Sagapolutele's family moved away from The Dalles to better accommodate her father's job in Hillsboro. Her relationship with Gresham's players made it an easy fit.

Sagapolutele typically hits fourth in the lineup behind juniors Santaya Riddle (.328, 10 doubles) and LaTerra Foster-Frison (.452, 6 home runs, 27 RBIs) and senior Ally Downing (.423). Sometimes, though, senior Kendall Gardenhire (.306, three home runs, 17 RBIs) will hit in the cleanup spot, sliding Sagapolutele to fifth.

“I pair them together so one of them doesn't get intentionally walked,” Jim Gardenhire said.

One of Sagapolutele's home runs at Roseburg traveled about 250 feet. Jim Gardenhire compares Sagapolutele's power to that of former Clackamas slugger Alyssa Daniell, now a senior on the team at Oregon.

“She reminds me of her, but more impressive,” he said. “When she keeps her eye on the ball, she has incredibly explosive hands and hips that absolutely rocket the bat through the strike zone. Even when she gets a late read on a pitch, she can catch up to it. She's a powerful athlete, and she's a very intelligent athlete.”

Sagapolutele joined three players who received all-conference honors – Kendall Gardenhire, Downing and Foster-Frison – from a team that went 16-11 last season, losing in the first round of the 6A playoffs.

The Gophers trail No. 9 Central Catholic (16-2, 6-0) and Barlow (12-7, 5-1) in the Mt. Hood standings. They will get a chance to avenge losses to both teams this week, playing host to Barlow on Monday and meeting Central Catholic at Hood View Park on Friday.

Gresham carries a four-game winning streak into the week.

“I like the direction we're heading,” Jim Gardenhire said. “It's trending for a spot in the playoffs. We're kind of righting the ship. In my eye, there's no one unreachable in the rest of our schedule.”

The Gophers played their first 14 games on the road due to construction delays on their new artificial turf field. They have played three home games, including an 8-3 loss to Central Catholic in the field's debut April 16.

“It was so long that our players kind of forgot that we hit second when we're at home,” Jim Gardenhire said with a laugh.

Silverton takes down No. 1

Reigning 5A champion and top-ranked Dallas had its 20-game winning streak snapped Friday with a 9-7 loss at No. 3 Silverton in a Mid-Willamette Conference game.

Silverton junior McKenzee Peterson ripped a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a 6-6 tie, and junior Hannah Houts followed with a two-run shot to make it 9-6. The Foxes (15-3, 8-1) held on for the win to move into a first-place tie with the Dragons (15-1, 8-1).

Silverton scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning, but Dallas fought back with five runs in the second inning and one run in the third inning to tie 6-6.

The Foxes finished with a 15-9 edge in hits. Houts and senior Brylie Parks each went 3 for 4 and Peterson, freshman Madalynn Ehrens and senior Kate Kofsted had two hits apiece.

Peterson earned the win in the circle, allowing nine hits, striking out five and walking none. Only one of Dallas' runs was earned as the Foxes committed six errors.

The teams meet again in the conference finale May 15 at Dallas.

Rams keep winning

Central Catholic extended its winning streak to 12 by going 3-0 last week. The Rams defeated Union (Wash.) 6-5, Sandy 10-3 and Nelson 9-3.

Senior pitcher Gracie Huston recorded three complete-game victories, allowing 16 hits and striking out 49. For the season, Huston is 12-1 with a 1.03 ERA and 192 strikeouts and 10 walks in 95 innings.

Also last week, senior infielder Elle Merlino had four doubles, two triples and six RBIs, scoring seven runs. Freshman infielder Olivia Pompetti had three doubles and seven RBIs and freshman outfielder Portland Razo scored six runs and had five stolen bases.

For the season, Pompetti is batting .554 with six home runs and 38 RBIs. Merlino is hitting .476 with nine doubles and six triples and Razo is hitting .514 with 33 runs, stealing 20 bases.

Wilsonville evades Putnam

No. 4 Wilsonville survived a late rally to turn back host Putnam 13-11 on April 24 to gain sole possession of first place in the 5A Northwest Oregon Conference.

The Wildcats (10-8, 6-1) built a 9-1 lead in the fourth inning, but the Kingsmen (8-7, 5-2) battled back to within 9-6 after six innings. Wilsonville senior Maddie Holly hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh to lead 13-6, enough to escape after Putnam put up five runs in the bottom of the seventh.

The Kingsmen had two runners on base and the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh but Wilsonville turned a game-ending double play on a line drive – sophomore second baseman Kylie Weisgerber to sophomore shortstop Sophia Vega.

Holly went 3 for 4 with a double, home run and five RBIs to lead Wilsonville, which had 14 hits. Vega and senior Grace Wilson also had three hits in the win.

Putnam got a big game from junior Brooklyn Bauer, who went 3 for 4 with two home runs and six RBIs.

West Linn streak at 14

No. 4 West Linn (17-1, 7-0) maintained its one-game lead over No. 5 Oregon City (16-2, 6-1) atop the 6A Three Rivers League with two wins last week.

West Linn prevailed at Tualatin 9-7 and beat visiting Lake Oswego 10-4. The Lions, who have won 14 in a row, play host to No. 8 Lakeridge (12-6, 4-4) on Monday before a showdown at Oregon City on Tuesday.

Sophomore Emily Sakys hit a home run and a ground-rule double in the win over Tualatin. West Linn gave up two early home runs against Lake Oswego, but took command with a nine-run fourth inning.

The Lions are hitting .382 in league play, led by seniors Rylee Gaustad (13 for 21, two home runs, nine RBIs) and Charlotte Brooke (five doubles, one triple, 10 RBIs) and junior Meg Allen (11 for 20, one home run, six RBIs).

Mac drops Sherwood

No. 6 McMinnville handed No. 2 Sherwood its first 6A Pacific Conference loss, going on the road to beat the Bowmen 11-4 on Friday.

The result means Sherwood (17-3, 5-1) holds a one-game lead over McMinnville (13-6, 4-2), Glencoe (12-8, 4-2) and Newberg (9-10, 4-2).

The Grizzlies got several big hits against the Bowmen. Junior Laney Reed hit a three-run double in the third inning, senior Mackenzie Bekofsky belted a two-run home run in the sixth and freshman Taylor Terry added an exclamation point with a two-run blast in the seventh.

Freshman pitcher Ariel Glynn earned the complete-game victory, striking out three and allowing two earned runs.

Franklin tops PIL

Franklin (12-7, 10-2) took over first place in the 6A Portland Interscholastic League with a 3-2 win at McDaniel (11-6, 8-2) on Friday.

The Lightning got payback for a 12-1 loss to McDaniel in the first round of league play. Freshman Bobbi Jean Wixon drove in two runs and freshman Elise Ostrom went 2 for 3 and scored one run for Franklin, which had eight hits.

Junior Amberlee Faas pitched 6 2/3 innings for the Lightning, allowing seven hits, five walks and one earned run. McDaniel had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh but sophomore Grace Vaupel got freshman Lucy Anderson to ground out to end the game.

Notes: No. 9 Stayton (13-4, 8-1) pulled into a first-place tie with No. 5 Cascade (16-3, 8-1) in the 4A Oregon West Conference on Thursday with a 5-4 home win over the Cougars. Junior Kenzi Hollenbeck hit a three-run homer and a two-run single for the Eagles, who ended the Cougars' 10-game winning streak. Hollenbeck staked Stayton to a 3-0 lead with her first-inning blast and made it 5-2 with a fifth-inning single. … No. 2 Henley (20-2, 12-0) clinched at least a share of the 4A Skyline Conference title with a doubleheader sweep at Klamath Union on Saturday. Sophomores Layliana Segura, Belle Birch and Haydyn Higgins smacked home runs as the Hornets won the first game 18-2 in five innings. Segura, Birch and junior Anna Harper went deep in the second game, a 14-2, five-inning win.