story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal
After a reversed call prevented the Whittier Christian softball team from taking a lead in the seventh inning, Melissa Martene had had enough with the heat, scoring from second base on a routine groundout in the 10th inning to lift the Lady Heralds over rival Valley Christian, Tuesday afternoon at Valley Christian High.
The win evens the series between the two rival schools and also leaves open the possibility of a split league title between the two as Valley Christian leads by a half-game.
Melissa Martene led off the 10th inning with a double to centerfield. Celeste Adriano failed to advance her to third after she grounded out to shortstop. Katelyn Wagner drew a walk, putting runners on first and second base. Morgan Ryan hit a lazy grounder which normally would have gone unnoticed, but instead Martene broke for home.
“Dale always tells us, two outs, two bases, so I went for my two bases.” Martene said.
On a day where the girls were playing in heat in the 90’s, and started an hour later than expected, Martene was ready to go home.
“I was tired after the seventh inning, but our team pulled through, they really did,” she said. “We were clutch at bat, we each helped each out at the plate, we never gave up on each other, and that’s what it takes to win,”
In the top of the seventh inning, the Lady Heralds (15-10, 6-1) nearly broke the tie which could have prevented extra innings.
Hannah Gabriel led off the seventh inning with a single and Taylor Escobar singled. The two runners advanced on a wild pitch. With two outs, Mackenzie Lou hit a hard grounder to second baseman Nicole Parker, who bobbled the ball, but quickly recovered to fling the ball over to first base.
The umpire initially called Lou safe, but after yelling from the Crusader fans and a meeting with the home plate umpire, the call was changed, the run was wiped from the board, and the Heralds headed to the bottom of the seventh intent on protecting the tie.
“She was on way before the ball was there, so the game should have been over in the seventh inning,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach.
Valley Christian (8-14, 7-1) saw all of its offensive production from the first four batters in the lineup, but with two outs and the bases loaded, fifth batter and starting pitcher, Anna Collier stepped to the plate with a chance to give her team a victory.
Katelyn Wagner had pitched six strong innings at that point keeping the Crusaders to four runs. Determined to send the game into extra innings and give her team a chance to win, she struck out Collier to get out of the seventh inning. Wagner would finish having pitched eight-and-two-thirds innings.
The Lady Heralds got an unlikely spark from Lou in the fourth inning, while they were struggling to keep pace with the Lady Crusaders who were up 3-1 at the time.
“Every base means something, it’s another base, it’s another run,” Lou said. “You do everything for your team, it’s nothing from selfish ambition, it’s all for all of us.”
With two outs Lou hit a slow grounder and beat out the throw to first base. From there, she swiped second and moved to third on a wild pitch.
“It takes all the courage you have inside your body to do it,” Van Duyn said about stealing bases. “Once you make a decision, go for it, and she’s been doing it, with her speed, its paid off.”
After the game Lou struggled to speak but was elated about the crucial victory.
“This game gives me more of a rush than any other,” Lou said, “Not having won on this field for over eight years and then breaking that, it feels so amazing, I want to cry, it’s the greatest feeling in the world, knowing you accomplished something you set out to do.
With the victory the Heralds can share the league title with Valley Christian if they beat Maranatha on Thursday at home on Senior day.