Monarchs fall short to Panthers after late collapse

Taking a 3-1 lead into the fifth inning, Valley looked to secure their third victory of the season, but fell behind in the sixth and lost again.

By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor

(L-R) Valley shortstop Téa Carbajal attempts to tag Panthers' right fielder Alyah Rueff at second base. Carbajal finished with two hits in three at-bats (Luis Flores / The Valley Star)

Looking to recover from their three-game skid, the Monarchs jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning, but could not come back after conceding three runs.

Playing in 52-degree weather with the wind curving every hit, Valley College softball (2-9) hosted Chaffey College (8-5) attempting to reroute its campaign in a positive direction. Having scored only six runs in the last three games, Valley took the field looking to overcome their offensive struggles and hold a lead. After seemingly achieving both feats, the Monarchs could not combat the Panthers’ late offense, crumbling to drop the game 4-3.

“It’s an adjustment,” said coach Andrea Contreras. “We don’t normally play in the wind or the cold often, but we just worked through it. We did a lot of sprints before the game to make sure we stayed warm throughout the game.”

In the first two innings, Valley and Chaffey kept each other off the board, making multiple clutch catches in the outfield to prevent runners from crossing home.

Despite freshman pitcher Jessica Lopez’s efforts to keep Chaffey from scoring early in the contest, the Panthers jumped into the run column first.

Valley pitcher Jessica Lopez throws the first pitch of the game against Chaffey College. Lopez allowed four hits and three runs in 6.1 innings on the mound. (Adrian Ramirez / Valley Star)

The Panthers scored their first run on an RBI-double to center field from Chaffey center fielder Sabrina Garcia. The inning ended without further damage when sophomore centerfielder Elizabeth Flores caught a flyball in right center and threw the ball to third in time to get Garcia out and end the frame.

Freshman catcher Isabel Flores knotted up the contest in the bottom of the fourth, hitting a line drive single to send Lopez home from first.

With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth, freshman right fielder Tatiana Williams pinch-hit for freshman utility Berenice Martinez, starting a rally. Williams bunted for a single and freshman left fielder Lexus Freire followed with a double into left-center. Freshman infielder Citlali Mendez hit an RBI-groundout to give the Monarchs a 2-1 lead.

Freshman infielder Katelyn Santisteban hit a ball to the same spot as Mendez, but reached first and scored Freire from second, giving Valley a two-run advantage.

In the bottom of the fifth, Lopez exited the mound after pitching for 6.1 innings, allowing four hits and three runs. With runners on second and third, freshman righty Isabel Ward relieved Lopez and tried to clean the busy basepaths.

Ward immediately threw a wild pitch, which allowed a runner to score and cut the lead to one. After forcing a groundout, she walked the next batter, who stole second base and gave the Panthers runners on second and third with the winning run in scoring position. Both runners scored on a line-drive single to the left field wall from Chaffey pitcher Celeste Paniagua. The Monarchs escaped without allowing another run, but needed to produce more offense to give themselves a fighting chance.

Valley infielder Citlali Mendez (left) connects on a swing as she bats against Chaffey College. Mendez finished with one RBI. (Griffin O'Rourke / The Valley Star)

Down 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the Monarchs flew out twice in quick succession, bringing up Mendez.

The right-handed infielder popped up in foul territory and a miscommunication between Chaffey’s catcher and infielders saw the ball drop in foul territory, giving her another chance to bat.

However, Mendez could not get on base, grounding to third for the final out of the game and finalizing Valley's fourth straight defeat.

“We have to make sure the girls stay positive and understand the game is not over yet,” said Contreras. “They have to keep pushing through and working hard till the end.”

Valley will host San Diego Mesa College for a doubleheader on Friday, with the first game starting at 10:30 a.m. and the second at 12:30 p.m.

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