Updated: Mar 9
Valley softball pulled off its second and third-highest scoring games of the season, stringing together hits through two explosive innings to come away with confidence-boosting victories.
By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor
Entering the doubleheader on a seven-game losing streak, the Monarchs looked for a spark to turn their season around, and after falling behind in both legs of the affair, found momentum thanks to two of their greatest offensive innings of the season.
Scoring seven runs in the last five games, Valley College softball (4-12) entered Tuesday’s action in an offensive slump. Struggling against heavy hitters all season, Valley looked for a way to recover after falling behind. Condors’ centerfielder/pitcher Rylee McDaniel buried three home runs for Oxnard College (0-10), giving the Monarchs trouble every time she stepped up to bat, but Valley found the answer. Every Monarch hitter shared the wealth at the plate, stringing together hits throughout the afternoon to pick up two confidence-boosting victories before conference play.
“I’ve never been involved in a game where the other team scored in five out of seven innings and we scored in one out of six and won the game,” said Valley Head Coach Greg Venger after the second contest. “Obviously the big innings are great. The hitting is contagious. But I thought the best part in that nine-run inning was that there were competitive at-bats, walks and hits more so than the other team’s mistakes.”
The Condors put runs on the board from the get-go, quickly bringing in three RBIs, two of which were courtesy of McDaniel’s first moonshot of the day.
McDaniel was walked intentionally to prevent more runs in the top of the third, putting the inning in the hands of Valley’s defense. Multiple catches in the outfield from sophomore centerfielder Elizabeth Flores and freshman left fielder Lexus Freire prevented the Condors from converting with runners on base, taking the game into the bottom of the third.
Freshman right fielder Tatiana Williams hit a single to lead off the inning, taking third on two wild pitches with no outs. Sophomore pitcher Sidney Hernandez walked and stole second as Condor pitcher Mia Guerrero continued to miss low. Freire sent a double into center field to drive home both runners as Valley’s offense kept rolling.
“I was just thinking about getting in the gap and scoring at least one run so we can get on the board,” said Freire after game one. “[It] feels good, because after that, the team’s energy went up. After something like that we are known for losing energy, so we needed to be humble and keep our energy up.”
Freshman infielder Citlali Mendez sacrifice bunted to advance Freire to third. Two more walks saw Elizabeth Flores and freshman shortstop Téa Carbajal load the bases with one out.
Freshman infielder Katelyn Santisteban reached a full count and sent the ball sailing into the left field gap for a three-RBI double, clearing the bases to put Valley on top 5-3. After advancing to third on a fielder’s choice, the infielder reached home on a single from freshman pitcher Jessica Lopez.
“I just keep breathing, taking my time and [reminding myself], hey, I’m here, this is the moment,” said Santisteban. “It’s really important [that we got hits]. We kept our energy up and we were all smiling, keeping it together.”
All nine Monarchs had successful at-bats in the third as Valley had one of its largest-scoring innings of the season, draining the energy out of the opposition.
Held together by Elizabeth Flores’ several run-preventing catches in the outfield, Valley allowed only two more runs, effectively snapping their seven-game losing streak.
“It’s tough out there,” said Elizabeth Flores after the game. “[Most people] don’t really know what it’s like to cover that much ground, but I’m just happy to get those outs and make it easier on [my team], especially on my pitcher.”
Flores grabbed ten catches through 14 innings, along with two runs and an RBI.
Carbajal tacked on another run in the fifth, hitting a double into right field and scoring on a double from Lopez as the Monarchs came away with a 7-5 game one victory.
To start game two, McDaniel hit her third home run of the doubleheader to put Oxnard up 1-0, and in the third inning, the Condors tacked on two more runs to increase their lead to three.
The Condors loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, but after allowing one run and intentionally walking McDaniel, freshman pitcher Amber Basham finished the job.
Trying to spark another comeback, Santisteban sent a line drive into center field for a single. Both Elizabeth and freshman catcher Isabel Flores were walked to load the bases and bring the game-tying run to the plate. Hernandez hit a single into left field to score Santisteban, loading the bases again as the deficit shrunk to three.
Williams got her second hit, finding the left-center gap on a line drive single to score two runs and cut the lead to one.
“Honestly, I was a little stressed at first because I had two strikes and no balls, but in my head I was just like, we have full bases, I have to hit,” said Williams. “It was kind of like I knew I had to do it, and that last ball, I just had to get a piece of it.”
Freire walked to load the bases, moving the winning run into scoring position. After a force out at home, Lopez found the right-field gap to score two more runners and give Valley the lead.
Carbajal solidified another six-run inning for Valley when she drove in an RBI on a hit to center, setting up Santisteban with two runners on. The infielder hit a line-drive triple into right field, scoring two more and giving the Monarchs an 8-4 lead.
Elizabeth Flores tacked on one more before being tagged out at first, making this the Monarchs’ highest-scoring inning of the season.
The Condors made it close, adding three runs before falling 9-7.
The Monarchs could be heard celebrating louder than ever from their dugout, winning back-to-back games for the first time this campaign.
Valley has a week off before traveling to Antelope Valley College for their first conference game Tuesday at 2:30.