Lady Heralds slug their way past Village Christian in shortened contest
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
After falling in a nonleague contest last Thursday, the Whittier Christian softball team jumped back into Olympic League play Tuesday afternoon, making quick work of Village Christian in an 11-1 five-inning victory that took just under an hour to complete.
Whittier Christian powered six runs in the fourth inning and won via the mercy rule when Village Christian failed to score in the fifth inning.
The Lady Heralds’ Morgan Ryan led the way, going 3-for-3, finishing a home run short of the cycle while driving in four runs.
“I just kept getting good pitches and I just drove them out, I had a pretty good day today,” Ryan said. “I came in pretty confident, I’ve been doing well with the bat lately and I thought I could continue that.”
Whittier Christian head coach Dale Van Duyn made switches in the field, putting Katelyn Wagner in the circle for the first time this season.
Wagner threw five innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits while striking out two batters.
In addition, Wagner hit a solo home run in the third inning and reached base on three plate appearances.
“I just knew I needed to get it done, it’s the first game I pitched since I got injured, I knew I needed to get ground balls,” Wagner said. “I wanted to move the ball from corner to corner, inside and out. Having my defense behind me constantly talking made me feel more confident too and the home run felt really nice.”
Taylor Escobar moved from her normal spot at catcher to first base, Celeste Adriano started at catcher and Hannah Gabriel started in left field.
“Hannah’s been throwing great for us, but if something were to happen, I need to have that second kid,” Van Duyn said. “Plus we have a tournament coming up and I can’t have Hannah pitching all four games, so we tried some different things today to see what we could do with different kids.”
The Lady Heralds (9-6, 2-0) started quickly. Melissa Martene led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hannah Gabriel.
Later in the inning, Village Christian starting pitcher Taylor Hughes loaded the bases with two hit batters and a walk.
Ryan cleared the bases with a line-drive triple to right field.
Wagner’s solo shot put the Lady Heralds up 5-0 in the third inning and Whittier Christian threatened for more, but Ryan was gunned out at home on a strong throw by Lady Crusaders’ center fielder Alyssa Alves to end the inning.
The Lady Heralds put up six runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by a 2-RBI single by Erica Romo. Celeste Adriano and Ryan also drove home runs in the inning.
“The loss we took against Calvary Chapel, we should have won, we had every opportunity to win that game,” Van Duyn said. “Every game is different, we just want to go out and play. No matter who we’re playing, we want to play like it’s a championship game.”
Village Christian (5-12, 0-1) scored its lone run in the fourth inning on a throwing error by Martene, which allowed Emma Wilson to score from second base.
The Lady Heralds will ride the momentum into another nonleague contest tomorrow afternoon at California High in Whittier at 3:15 p.m.
“They hit the ball well, we’ve averaged more than five runs per game and that’s a lot of hitting,” Van Duyn said. “We just want to continue to work on baserunning, but our girls are walking to the plate with some confidence, knowing they can hit the ball.”