Lady Raiders start league with key victory over Troy
by Daniel Hargis
La Habra Journal
In what was a fast-paced game, the Sonora High School softball team used tight defense and efficient offense to pick up a 4-1 victory against the visiting Troy Warriors in their Freeway League opener, Tuesday at Sonora.
Tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Lady Raiders (9-7, 1-0) offense came alive to score three runs to defeat the Lady Warriors, the same team that kept them from the CIF playoffs a year ago.
“This is a win we needed to have, especially with the two losses last week (to Savanna and La Serna),” Sonora head coach Michelle Rodriguez said. “Especially with a team like Troy. Troy is a team that always plays hard, and with their speed and pitching it forced us to show up today. We had offense when we needed it, I’m proud of the way we played.”
Senior third baseman Katie Amaral led off the sixth with a base hit before immediately stealing second, creating the looks for a productive inning.
Two batters later, senior first baseman Audrey Castro singled and advanced to second base on the attempted put out at home plate, but Lady Warriors catcher Kristen Randall could not hang on as Amaral scored the game-winning run.
A pop out began to wind the inning down with two outs, but freshman designated hitter Ashley Diaz doubled home Castro to take a 3-1 lead.
Another high pop up to right field was dropped and Diaz, hustling from second base on the two-out fly ball, safely scored for the final run of the afternoon.
“We weren’t worried at all, our offense needed to step up because Sam (Sonora’s pitcher) was doing her job, we knew we’d come back,” Castro said.
Both teams hardly gave up an inch to one another behind strong pitching and fundamental defense from start to finish.
Troy (10-7, 0-1) was held without a base runner once while Sonora endured the same offensive struggles three times.
In the innings in which runs were scored, they came with the help of a fielding error by the defense, or in the case of Sonora’s big sixth inning, the leadoff batter reaching base.
Both pitchers forced batters into fly balls and ground balls that were clinically dealt with by the defense, helping Troy get out of a two-out jam in the fourth inning.
Sonora’s defense came away with the most impressive defensive play of the game in the top of the seventh inning. Lady Raiders’ sophomore shortstop Chelsea Purcell caught a line drive and doubled off Lady Warrior Alyssa Polentz at first base to suffocate any chance of a comeback.
“I think everyone wanted to get that first win,” Sonora sophomore pitcher Samantha Casanas said. “I love my defense behind me. It makes my job in the circle a lot easier.”
Casanas finished with a complete game and two strikeouts coupled with one walk on four hits and one earned run. Miranda Trinidad started for Troy, finishing with three strikeouts, zero walks and one earned run in four innings. Jessica Rathmell finished the game with two strikeouts, one walk, and one earned run in two innings.
Offensively, Castro had a team-high three hits and one run. Junior outfielder Taylor Clark, Diaz and Castro scored the other three runs.
Castro also drove in a pair of runs and outfielder Brandi Landino collected an RBI.
“We’re going to take this one game a time, it’s a huge win for us following last year not making CIF,” Rodriguez said. “Our goal is to go to CIF, get hot and go on a run.”