April 16, 2007
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara softball team took to the field Monday morning to finish their series with San Diego which had forced a tripleheader on Sunday. After going down early, the Broncos stormed back and took the lead in the top of the tenth inning. But strong hitting by the Toreros finally got the best of Santa Clara, and San Diego won the game 9-8 in ten innings, winning the series three games to one.
This time it was Santa Clara who came out of the gates as if with something to prove. After a leadoff walk to Nori Kamada and a sacrifice by Breann Netto, senior Angela Kabanuck went yard on Toreros pitcher Katie Jo Nelson, giving the Broncos an early 2-0 lead.
San Diego would strike back, however. Jackie Morales struggled in her second consecutive start in as many days, giving up three hits and a walking in a run to narrow the lead to 2-1.
In the second inning, the struggles continued. After giving up a single, a sacrifice and then two more consecutive singles, Morales was lifted from the ballgame, replaced by freshman Kaitlyn Rauschnot. It took a few batters for Rauschnot to get settled, giving up three consecutive singles for a total of five consecutive singles in the inning, increasing the Toreros lead to 4-2.
The Toreros would get one more run to make it 5-2 before the Broncos would strike first. In the top of the fourth inning, sophomore Noelani Hoopii blasted one over the fence in right field, igniting her teammates. In the fifth inning, the gloves came off. With one out, Maggie Godfrey, pinch hitting for Brean Netto, singled, and two walks later the bases were loaded for freshman Ashley Grove. Grove's groundout to shortstop scored a run and suddenly it was 5-4; The Broncos were back in the game.
The very next batter, Ashley Blier, launched a double to the wall in left field, scoring Kabanuck from third and Nicole Picard, who was pinch running for Jennifer Clarke, from second. Clarke finished the day with two walks and was also hit by a pitch.
Now leading 6-5, Nelson was lifted from the game in favor of Jennifer Ellenbeck, who had taken care of the Broncos in game one of the series on Sunday. But it was no match for freshman Emily Batt, whose sharply hit ball toward third base could not be handled by Kathleen Bonja, allowing a seventh run to score for the Broncos.
Leading by two the Broncos had a tough test ahead of them - to hold the lead. A leadoff walk and then a fielders choice in which all runners were safe put Toreros on first and second with nobody out. Rauschnot was replaced by Castagno. Two batters later, the Broncos traded a run for out number two of the inning and then things took a turn for the worse. With a runner on third, a poor throw from Netto prolonged the inning and allowed the tying run to score.
Castagno stuck it out, however, sending the Toreros down without any runs for most of the rest of the game. In fact after that fifth inning, it was a scoreless endeavor until the tenth. The Broncos came close in the sixth. With a speedy Kamada at second base and the game deadlocked at 7-7, Kabanuck was intentionally walked for the second time in as many days. An ensuing single by Picard moved the runners up, but then two consecutive fielders choices threw out runners at home plate and third base, respectively, ending a great chance to take the lead.
And after that, hits were hard to find, on both sides. In the seventh, eighth and ninth, the Broncos went three-up-three-down, while Castagno managed to keep the Toreros off the bases.
Then in the tenth inning, the Broncos took advantage of the tiebreaker. With Blier at second base, Batt laid down a nice bunt to advance the runner, and Hoopii followed that up with a single up the middle to give the Broncos the lead 8-7.
Then in the bottom of the inning, the Broncos defense held strong. getting two quick outs and keeping Kaslin Tucker from advancing past third base. But a flare which was just out of the reach of Blier at third base brought the tying run in to score. It looked like more extra innings. Virginia Fritch then laced a shot to the gap in right centerfield, and soon after, Pujol scored from first base to end the game 9-8.
For the Broncos they finished the series 1-3, and their record dropped to 3-5 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference (10-37 overall). Next weekend, Santa Clara will host Sacramento State at Marsalli Park. Doubleheader game times are 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. on both Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22.