Unearned runs cost Casa girls
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.
Casa Grande gave highly regarded Pinole Valley a scare but fell to the Lady Spartans, 3-1, Thursday afternoon at a newly renovated Ellerhorst softball complex in Pinole.
Pinole Valley came into the game having won four of its first five games, featuring three shutouts by pitcher Sydney Shipley. The hard-throwing senior was touched up early by the Lady Gauchos, who scored in the first inning and came back to threaten in their final at bat, but allowed that opportunity to slip away.
Casa Grande was presented a golden scoring opportunity to open the game when Shipley plunked both Ciera Perez and Lisa Nadell with errant pitches high in the zone. Courtney Ludlow then stroked a single into center field but both runners advanced only one base.
Shortstop Heather Zeeb lined one back through the middle headed for center field that was picked off in the circle by Shipley, who chose to go to first allowing one run to score. Shipley then retired the side on a clutch strikeout.
The hosts got even in a hurry. Pinole first baseman Cynthia Duenas rifled a two-out home run over the right field fence to tie the score against starting pitcher Ludlow. It was the only legitimate run batted in by the Spartans, but they would come back to score single unearned runs in the third and fifth frames.
In the third inning, a fielder’s choice and a walk earned the Lady Spartans two base runners. Duenas came up again and ripped a line drive directly to third, but a throw across the diamond for a potential double play got away, allowing the lead base runner to reach third base.
On the next pitch, Pinole attempted a double steal that turned into a violent collision at second base between the trailing base runner and shortstop Zeeb. A safe call allowed Lady Spartan freshman Jessica Rogers to score the eventual winning run.
Ludlow went on to allow only three hits in the game, but a couple of fifth-inning miscues set up a single by Rogers to drive in an insurance tally.
The Gauchos did not go quietly in the last inning when the aroused dugout encouraged each hitter against Shipley. After throwing a couple of pitches out of the zone, Shipley came in with one to Caitlyn Cerini, who laced a double between right and center field to set up a potential rally.
With the tying run at the plate and nobody out, Shipley reached back and got her crucial 13th strikeout.
The wheels came completely off the potential rally when Cerini was surprisingly thrown out at third base on a delayed steal attempt. Rachael Martinez ended the game by grounding out to third base.
It was a tough one for Ludlow who pitched well enough to win most games, allowing only one earned run on the blast by Duenas. Ludlow struck out five and walked only three batters. She also took a wicked line drive off her body in the first inning, but immediately asked for the ball and went back to work.
The best defensive play of the afternoon came in the third inning after Pinole Valley scored the go ahead run and had a second potential score at second base. A line drive off the bat of Shipley was ticketed for a base hit down the line in right field, but a diving catch was turned in by Alexus Hale of the Gauchos to prevent any further damage.
Casa Grande continues to play competitive softball under first year coach Joanna Martin. The Lady Gauchos are now 3-2 to begin the season after they dispatched Redwood 8-4 on the previous Friday.
Casa will travel to Clayton Valley next Thursday.
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