Updated: Apr 5
An infield error in game one and a clutch hit from infielder Citlali Mendez in game two gave the Monarchs two huge victories to start the final month of the season.
By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor
In what was a roller coaster of a double header, the Monarchs fell behind in both legs against the Vikings, but seventh-inning heroics allowed them to secure two hard-earned victories.
Unable to put more than four runs on the board in the last six games, Valley College softball (6-18, 0-6 WSC East) finally managed to pick up its offense, avenging their loss to Barstow College (12-10, 7-3 Inland Empire Athletic Conference) from the first game of the season to beat the Vikings 9-8 and 4-3 respectively. A seventh-inning rally in game one brought the Monarchs back from three behind and a walk-off RBI single by infielder Citlali Mendez in game two helped Valley snap its six-game losing streak in style.
“We won both games in the seventh walk-off style, and that shows resilience in the team,” said coach Greg Venger. “They’re not playing for themselves. They’re playing for each other.”
Freshman Jessica Lopez began game one on the mound, allowing a run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning.
In response, Valley loaded the bases on two walks and a single from freshman shortstop Téa Carbajal. A wild pitch gave Mendez the opportunity to score, and a fielder’s choice allowed sophomore right fielder Caitlyn Pineda to put the Monarchs up by one.
In the third, freshman left fielder Lexus Freire made a jumping catch at the wall to prevent the Vikings from regaining control.
Pineda followed the acrobatic play with a single, stealing second and third before heading home on a single from Carbajal.
Infield errors allowed Barstow to cut the lead to one in the fifth, but Freire made another clutch catch in left field to keep the Vikings at bay.
Up 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, the Monarchs looked to expand their lead.
A well-placed bunt allowed Pineda to reach first. The third-year starter stole second and third as Barstow’s pitcher continued to miss in the dirt. Sophomore centerfielder Elizabeth Flores was walked and Carbajal stepped up, smacking a bullet down the left field line to bring in Pineda. Another wild pitch allowed Flores to come home and make the score 5-2.
The Vikings cut into the lead in the top of the sixth. Back-to-back base hits gave Barstow infielder Amber Delgado a chance to capitalize with runners in scoring position. Subsequently, she hit a three-run home run past the left field wall to tie the game at five.
Barstow hitters kept finding the gap an inning later as two hits into left field allowed runners to take second and third with no outs. A hit out of the reach of Carbajal brought home another run.
Sophomore righthander Sidney Hernandez relieved Lopez, and after securing an out, threw a wild pitch, allowing another runner to score. Delgado hit a flyball to center field and ballooned the Viking lead to 8-5. A double play finished off the inning for Valley, but the Monarchs would need a miracle in the final inning if they are to come back.
Pineda hit a grounder to second, where an error allowed her to reach for the fourth time Saturday morning. Elizabeth Flores walked and Carbajal flew out to bring both runners into scoring position. A wild pitch and throw to third allowed both runners to score as Valley’s deficit shrunk to one with one out left.
Freshman infielder Melissa Orozco and Lopez were walked, bringing up Isabel Flores to pinch hit for Hernandez. She hit a 3-2 grounder for what looked like the final out of the game, but a wild throw into the Vikings’ dugout allowed two runners to come home and gift the Monarchs a 9-8 victory.
“Getting ourselves up and getting on the other team [brought us back],” said Carbajal, who went 3/4 and had two RBIs in game one. “Normally we would go down, but there was something in us today, we had a fire under us that was just keeping us going. ”
With Hernandez starting on the mound in game two, Barstow again struck first with a double bringing home a runner in the first inning, but Valley responded quickly.
After Carbajal walked, freshman infielder Katelyn Santisteban hit a grounder to shortstop and a throw that went over the head of the Vikings’ infielder at second base allowed the Monarchs’ shortstop to come home. On the next at-bat, Orozco flew out to right, allowing Santisteban to come home and put the Monarchs on top 2-1.
Two innings later, Elizabeth Flores hit a single and stole second and third on wild pitches. Santisteban brought her home on a sacrifice fly out to center as the Monarchs grabbed a two-run lead.
The Vikings loaded the bases in the sixth as they tried to snap out of their Saturday slump. A hit into the right-center gap brought two runners home to even the score as they did just that.
Freshman pitcher Isabel Ward was asked to hold the score in the seventh and she came through, not allowing a hit.
“Sidney threw a hell of a game,” said Venger. “That was probably our best start by any pitcher this year. Six innings, three runs, two of them earned, she pitched really well, and then Isabel came in in the seventh and put up a zero which gave us a chance to win.”
Freshman utility player Berenice Martinez came in to pinch hit for Isabel Flores, providing a clutch base hit into center field. Freire hit a bunt to first that was mishandled, allowing her to reach. Flipping the lineup back to the top, Mendez stepped up to the plate.
With a chance to win the game, the freshman right hander hit a grounder to shortstop, allowing Martinez to come home and grab the Monarchs’ second walk-off victory of the day.
“I was just thinking that I really needed to hit the ball and I was not planning on striking out,” said Mendez postgame. “We just really wanted to win. We’re tired of losing, so we really wanted to win this time.”
The Monarchs will round out their six-game home stand when they host Antelope Valley College Thursday at 2:30.
Contributions by Nicholas Orozco