May 10, 2001 11:00 pm
QUICK SWING: Kandis Wallace hit a double and stole a base in the second game of La Grande's sweep over Vale Thursday. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).
QUICK SWING: Kandis Wallace hit a double and stole a base in the second game of La Grande's sweep over Vale Thursday. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).

By The Observer

ISLAND CITY La Grande took one step closer to clinching the Greater Oregon League softball title with a sweep over Vale Thursday.

The two wins moved the Tigers to 14-4 in league play and, if they sweep both games of their Saturday twin-bill finale with Ontario and Riverside sweeps Baker today and Vale Tuesday, La Grande has the tie-breaking edge since it beat the Pirates three of four times this season.

Sixth-ranked La Grande (15-8 overall, 14-4 league) beat Vale 4-2 the first game and 12-1 in six innings in the second game. The second game ended early due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Josi Kelly, who played in the outfield for the first time due to an injury that has kept her out all season, had three hits, four RBIs and two steals in the second contest. Her two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth ended the game.

She came in and hit unbelievably, La Grande coach Nicole Christian said. Shes been at every practice (this season) and her arms getting better.

The second inning proved pivotal. The Tigers held a 2-0 lead off an Amanda Marcum two-run single heading into the second.

La Grande exploded for seven runs off seven hits in the second inning. Kelly nailed a two-run single to start the scoring, followed three batters later by a two-run double by Marcum. Megan Caldwell added a one-run single and the Tigers scored its other two runs off Vale mistakes.

Marcum had two hits and four RBIs in the second game. Caldwell had two hits and Amanda Mahon added two steals.

Erin Maier earned her first win of the season pitching, holding the Vikings to four hits in six innings.

Vale had four errors in the first inning of the opening contest, the first of which allowed Chelsea Long to reach second base. Long moved to third on another error and scored on the third error. Meanwhile, Lauren Sternfeld had singled, and she scored on a triple to right field by Bre McCoy.

The Tigers added a run in the third inning when Meghan Henderson reached on an error. Long sacrificed her to second base, and she scored on yet another miscue.

La Grandes fourth run came in the fourth after McCoy was hit in the foot by a pitch. Mahon ran for her, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a passed ball.

The errors provided the bulk of La Grandes offense. The Tigers had only three hits off Vale pitcher Chelsie Ross. McCoy, on the other hand, limited Vale to just three hits and pitched a perfect first three innings.

Vale didnt score until La Grande made two errors in the seventh inning. McCoy got the win after fanning Amber Miller for her sixth strikeout of the game.

La Grande hosts Ontario in a doubleheader for its regular-season finale Saturday at the LDS Church Field.

Vale 000 000 2 2 3 8

La Grande 201 100 x 4 3 3

Ross and Cooper; McCoy and Kirkeby. WP McCoy (4-2). LP Ross.

La Grande hits Sternfeld, McCoy, Kelly. 3B McCoy. RBI McCoy. SB Mahon.

Vale 000 010 1 4 3

La Grande 271 002 12 12 0

Nalzic and Cooper; Maier and Kirkeby. WP Maier (1-1). LP Nalzic.

La Grande hits Kelly 3, Marcum 2, Caldwell 2, Kirkeby, Sternfeld, Wallace, Lanman. 2B Marcum, Wallace. HR Kelly. RBI Marcum 4, Kelly 4, Caldwell. 2B Kelly 2, Mahon 2, Henderson, Marcum Wallace.