Grizzlies back on track

A pair of dominant outings on the mound from junior Bella Pribyl led the Ashland High softball team as it opened its Southern Sky Conference schedule with a sweep of Mazama in a doubleheader Saturday at North Mountain Park.

Pribyl scattered three hits across six innings while striking out 12 in Ashland's 11-1 Game — victory. She then pitched a one-hit, 11-strikeout shutout in the Grizzlies' 3-0 Game 2 win.

As impressive as Pribyl's stat line was, there is only one statistic that matters to the hurler.

"I just wanna win," Pribyl said. "I don't wanna let my team down. I know that they're doing their best and I wanna do my best. I just know that I won't be happy unless I pitch well."

Pribyl was stellar from the opening pitch, retiring the first eight batters she faced, seven on strikes.

The Grizzlies (13-1, 2-0 SSC) found the plate in the third inning when senior Samantha Gilbert brought a run home from third on a ground out. Sophomore Hayley Ross followed with single that scored junior Sarah Silbowitz to give Ashland a 2-0 lead.

Mazama's Chelsea Whiteley reached base on a walk in the fourth. She later scored the Vikings' only run of the day on a Kelsea MacPhee double to center.

A solo homer by Silbowitz in the fifth inning started a one-out rally that saw eight straight Grizzlies reach base and push Ashland's lead to 8-1.

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Ashland's Isabella Pribyl pitched against Mazama Saturday afternoon at North Mountain Park.

— Thom Larkin | Daily Tidings

In the sixth, Ross knocked in Gilbert with a double. A pair of throwing errors soon allowed Ross and junior Amanda Good to cross home plate and build the lead to 11-1, enacting the mercy rule.

The Grizzlies wasted no time warming up the bats for Game 2. Silbowitz led off the first inning with a single. After taking second base on a passed ball, she scored on a Gilbert single down the right field line for the early 1-0 lead.

Pribyl found herself in a jam in the top of the second.

Mazama's Ali Edwards made it to first on an error and MacPhee registered the Vikings' only hit of the game with a double. Pribyl later walked Talisa Taylor to load the bases with one out.

Pribyl dug deep and came out with a pair of strikeouts to escape the inning. She allowed only one Viking to reach base the rest of the day.

Ashland coach Misty Potochnick has come to expect great things from Pribyl.

"I think she expects it more from herself than even I expect," Potochnick said. "She always puts her best effort in and she's come a long way as a player. She's always very strong for us."

The Ashland lead remained 1-0 until the fourth inning when senior Heidi Siebenlist plated senior Kylie Cantrell on a ground out. Cantrell added a double to right field in the sixth to send home Good and give Ashland its 3-0 lead.

Pribyl finished strong, allowing no chance of a Mazama comeback. She retired the last 12 batters she faced and struck out six of them.

Pribyl was happy to start the conference schedule with a pair of wins, especially coming off a 3-2 loss to North Medford.

"I think that gave us the kick in the butt that we need to push through and win conference, knock on wood," Pribyl said. "I think (wins over Mazama) mean a lot more than our preseason wins because it is our conference and we have something to defend this year."

With a 2008 conference championship on the Grizzlies' to do list, Potochnick recognizes how important Saturday's wins were.

"We knew that we had to win these games," Potochnick said. "We have to take care of our games with Mazama to reach our goal of trying to win the conference. Its important to take care of these games because our bigger games are down the line. Overall we played really well for our first conference games, so its nice to get those wins under our belt."

Sports editor Joe Zavala can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.

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