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Softball: Spartans stop Brawley 1-0

April 07, 2001|By TOM RONCO, Special to this newspaper

BRAWLEY — Some might call the Imperial Valley League game in which the Central Union High School Spartans won in 12 innings over Brawley 1-0 here Friday a "classic" fast-pitch softball game.

It featured dominating pitching performances by Central's Maria Perez and Brawley's Leighan Sudduth, both of whom went the distance, striking out 10 and eight batters, respectively.

"I expected us to hit better but Maria was on," said Brawley coach Rahsahn Overton. "They have a strong team and it doesn't surprise me that we came down to this."

Central coach Sandy Montalvo agreed, "I expected a very tough game and we had a great crowd and they got their money's worth."


Still, Brawley failed to capitalize on four Central errors and a walk, while the Spartans had six batters walk, none of whom scored.

"We have a habit of giving the other team an extra out and we are fortunate that it didn't hurt us today," said Montalvo.

"We got a great performance from Leighan because she kept getting behind the hitters but kept fighting back," said Overton.

In the 12th inning, however, Central capitalized on the Wildcats only two errors of the game.

In the bottom of the 12th, Central's Marissa Guzman lined Sudduth's first pitch for a single to right centerfield for her second hit of the game.

"I wasn't tired or anything, I did have some problems slipping off the mound, but I felt fine," said Sudduth, who pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning. "And we had been playing such great defense, I wasn't worried."

With a runner on first, Central's Lisa Valenzuela, who had entered the game two innings prior when Jennifer Ramirez was injured in a collision running to first base, bunted the first pitch.

Brawley first baseman Kaylin Rubin fielded the ball, looked at second, then turned to first and hurried her throw, which pulled second baseman Brett Reeves off the bag and allowed Valenzuela to get on base.

"I usually don't play the outfield so I was nervous," said Valenzuela. "When I got the signal to bunt I was thinking ‘just get it down' because this was a critical game."

With runners on first and second and no one out, Montalvo called on Monica Sandoval to bunt.

Sandoval pushed the ball to the left so the runners could advance and Lofton fielded the ball for Brawley but threw it into right field allowing Guzman to score the winning run.

"We had been playing such strong defense, especially Reggie Horta, a freshman, at shortstop," said Overton. "We have a lot of athletic girls so we can make switches."

Brawley had opened the top half of the inning when Trisha Fleming grounded an 0-2 pitch deep into the hole on the left side of the infield and beat the throw for an infield single.

"I just wanted to get on base any way I could so I just took a rip at the pitch," said Fleming, who had been on base two previous at-bats thanks to Central errors.

Brawley's Rubin, who had the Wildcats' only other hit — a single in the first inning — then took a full swing and fouled off Perez's first pitch against Central's infielders, who were expecting a bunt. Rubin then attempted to bunt the second pitch but it rolled foul.

With an 0-2 count on Rubin, Fleming stole second, the only successful base steal of the day. Rubin had been gunned down attempting to steal in the top of the first inning by Central catcher Amber Marquez while Brawley catcher Erin Rutherford threw out Central's Clarissa Maldonado in the bottom of the first.

Perez then struck out Rubin, bringing Sudduth to the plate. Sudduth hit the first pitch and was thrown out but advanced Fleming to third, the first Brawley runner to advance that far.

With two outs, Perez quickly got ahead of Brawley's Ebony Lofton 1-2. Lofton then hit a dribbler in front of the plate and Perez tagged Fleming out for what appeared to be the third out of the inning.

However, the base umpire called Lofton's hit a foul ball because it apparently glanced off her ankle.

Given new life, Lofton was jammed by Perez and grounded out to first.

"I tend to get stronger and more focused as the game goes on," said Perez. "The wind made it hard on the defense today, but I thought of every pitch as being critical."

"She was excellent. She mixed up her pitches well and her intensity level kicked in about the sixth inning," said Montalvo of Perez, who between the sixth and eighth innings threw 20 pitches with only four of them being outside the strike zone.

The victory keeps Central (8-4, 4-1) tied for first place in the IVL with Holtville, while Brawley (8-4, 3-2) trails the leaders by a game.

This week Brawley and Central will compete in the Madison High Softball Tournament in San Diego, which starts Monday.

Palo Verde 4, Imperial 2

BLYTHE — The Imperial High School softball team fell to Palo Verde 4-2 here Friday.

Lindsay Lugo took the loss for the Tigers. She also led the Imperial offense with four hits. Maggie Rodriguez added two hits and scored two runs.

The Tigers (5-7, 0-4) will return to action at 5:30 p.m. April 20 against Imperial alumni.

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