A Pair of Wild Comebacks Nets Huskies Two Wins in Saturday 3-Way
by Cerwin D Haynes
(photos by Juan Sanchez)
Before the start of this past week, East Los Angeles College softball had only one home victory so far on the season's ledger. More importantly, they were 7-12 and in danger of fading further away from any kind of postseason consideration. The Huskies began to right the ship earlier this week with wins over Santa Monica and Pasadena City, but in order to truly build momentum for the second half of the season, they would need to find a way to beat two upper echelon opponents - and on the same day - in the Ventura College Pirates and the Fullerton College Hornets.
Perhaps in perfect symbolism of what ELAC needed to do for its season, the Huskies came from behind not once, not twice, but three times on the day to turn away both the Pirates and later the Hornets by identical scores: 8-7.
COMEBACK DOGGIES, TAKE 1
In the first game of the three-way, East's starting P Lauren Tate struggled with the potent Pirate offense, giving up six runs in less than two innings of work before being relieved by Chasity Martinez with two out in the top of the 2nd. Martinez would retire Aaliyah Arias on flyout to end the inning, but the Huskies were down 6-1 and looked to be on their way to a blowout loss.
But the Pack would find their trekking, responding in the 3rd inning by scoring four on the strength of torrid hitting: Tate, 1B Priscilla Hernandez, 2B Lily Stell and RF Dani Varela all had consecutive RBI hits, with Stell ripping a double to deep center. ELAC would end the inning sill down but within a run of Ventura, 6-5.
After Martinez retired the side in order in the top of the 4th, the Huskies took advantage of a bevy of Pirate miscues with two outs to ultimately take the lead:
- Hernandez lifted a fly ball into the outfield that was dropped by LF Ciana Garcia. Nathalie Cordova, who reached base on a single and was then moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt, scored all the way from 2nd. Hernandez advanced to 2nd on the throw into the infield.
- After Stell reached 1st base on a grounder that ate up SS Abby Strong for an error, Varela took to the plate and hit a fly ball into shallow center. Lauren Albrent appeared to get her glove under the ball but couldn't make the catch - Hernandez scored from 3rd.
- During a successful double steal by Varela and Stell, 3B Courtney Terrazas dropped the relay throw and the ball skirted past her to the left foul fence. Stell scored from 3rd.
Three runs in gave ELAC an 8-6 lead. RF Isabel Gallegos would hit a solo homerun to center off reliever Serena Lopez in the top of the 7th, but Lopez - who had been held out of action for the week to rest her arm - retired the next three Ventura (15-6) batters to secure the win and earn herself a save.
COMEBACK DOGGIES, TAKE 2
After Fullerton defeated Ventura in the 2nd game, they wasted little time in pressing their fortunes with the Huskies in the third game. The Hornets (11-9-1) jumped on ELAC with two runs each in the first two innings, highlightd by SS Dee Ramirez's two-run homer to left in the second inning. But again, East LA refused to lie down: trailing 4-1 in the bottom half of the second, Nathalie Cordova ripped an RBI single to left that scored Monique Davila while advancing Arlyne Ruiz to 2nd. A wild pitch would later advance both runners up a base, and Irene Dorado grounded out to second while bringing home Ruiz.
Skipping to the bottom of the fourth: the first three Huskies reached base on errors, with the third error on an errant throw to 1st by 3B Brenna Monson that allowed Irene Huizar to score from 2nd (Ruiz, who was on 1st, advanced to 3rd on the bad throw). Dorado was next up, and she hit a grounder to the right side fielded by 1B Madison Pevehouse. Pevehouse found herself too far from the first base bag, so she had to toss the ball to 2B Alendy Aguilar covering, which gave Ruiz enough time to score from 3rd. ELAC would end the inning up 5-4.
COMMEBACK DOGGIES, TAKE 3
ELAC's newfound lead did no last long: in the next inning, Fullerton tied things up at 5-all thanks to a leadoff double by Casey Dufrene and two groundouts that ultimately advanced her home. The Hornets siezed back the lead in the 6th inning on an RBI single by Ramirez and an RBI double by Pevehouse to go up 7-5. Fullerton would take said lead into the bottom of the 7th... and that's where the Pack had one last comeback mush in them.
The first three Huskies' batters reached on a walk, single to center, and an error by backup 3B Rachel Varela (who took over third for the struggling Monson in the 4th) to load the bases. The fourth Huskies' batter, Cordova, hit into a fielder's choice to backup SS Jocelyn Jauregui - she fielded the ground ball cleanly and made a sharp throw to home to force the lead run at the plate. Dorado was up next, and she slapped a single through the infield to score Huizar and bring East LA within a run at 7-6.
And then things got even more dramatic: Tate, the next batter, hit a fly ball into left. Taylar Lannon, the left-fielder, appeared to bobble the catch but held onto the ball. As the ball was being handled by Lannon, Ruiz - the runner at third - tagged up to seemingly score the tying run. But Fullerton's coaches contended that Ruiz left third early (before that catch was officially called) and challenged the initial play ruling by the home plate umpire. A series of intense coversations with both teams's coaches and both umpires ensued: if Ruiz left third before the catch was made, she could be tagged out which would give the Hornets the third out of the inning and the win. But the umps ultimately upheld and clarified their initial ruling: Ruiz legally tagged from third upon Lannon initial contact with the ball.
Tie game at 7-up, runners at 1st and 2nd with two outs.
Priscilla Hernandez was the next batter, and promptly put an end to the tension-filled, see-saw battle: she smashed a game-winning, walk-off double over the head of CF Skye Samano, scoring Cordova from second and sending the Pack into a wild celebration.
ELAC now has a four-game winning streak and is 11-12 overall.
- Dorado started both games at SS and had two hits in each game. She would go a combined 4-7 with 3RBI and two runs scored on the day.
- One of the keys to both Huskies' victories was getting production from the bottom of the order. In the first game against Ventura, ELAC's 7-8-9 hitters reached base safely five times (two walks and three hits). In the game against Fullerton, hitters 7-8-9 each had a hit with five total runs scored. Nine-hole hitter Nathalie Cordova went 3-7 between both games with 2RBI and three runs scored.
- Chasity Martinez pitched in relief for both games and got the win in both games, her first two wins of the season. She threw 3.1 shutout innings against Ventura which allowed the Huskies a chance to come back. Against Fullerton, she came on with two outs in the sixth and immediately gave up an RBI double (w/the run charged to Tate), but struck out Olivia Nunez to end the inning, then retired the Hornets in order in the 7th.
- Today's three-way included Ventura facing Fullerton the the day's second game. Ventura (16-6) defeated Fullerton (11-8-1) by a score of 8-6.
- ELAC's 8-7 win over Ventura avenges an early-season loss to the Pirates during the Glendale Tournament back in late-January.
East LA looks to build on their current momentum by resuming South Coast Conference play next week. They'll have three road games against Cerritos, El Camino and Rio Hondo.