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Late rally pulls Wildcats past Eagles By ROBERT FULTON, Special to this newspaper

April 28, 2001

In a battle between Imperial Valley League rivals, the Brawley Union High School softball team came back from a one-run deficit to defeat Southwest 2-1 in El Centro on Friday.

The Eagles boasted a 1-0 advantage in the sixth.

Then Brawley rallied.

The rally started with a walk to Hannah Howard. Leighan Sudduth then reached base on a single, moving Howard to second.

Then it was Kaylin Rubin time.

Rubin ripped a triple to right center, scoring Howard and Sudduth. Brawley would not score again, but the damage had been done as the Wildcats had a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.

"Rubin just came up and found a ball and got a shot," said Eagle coach Stephanie Niebla. "She just got a hold of it. There's nothing we can do about that.

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"It was Kaylin Rubin," Brawley coach Rahsahn Overton added. "She had that blast."

"We couldn't put hits together," Overton said. "We'd get one hit, but then we'd strike out or ground out. We weren't putting things together."

The Eagles scored first, in the fourth inning.

Mary Sanders started the inning beating out an infield hit. She stole second, giving Southwest a runner in scoring position with no outs.

Melissa Frausto moved Sanders to third in her at bat on a ground out.

Two batters later, Jessica Conway hit a hard infield chopper. There was no stopping Sanders heading for home, and Southwest had the 1-0 lead.

The contest was filled with good pitching and even better defense. The Eagles were almost impenetrable.

"We had good defense," Niebla said. "Lauren Miramontes (shortstop), she's one of our seniors. She helped us a lot on the field. She turned the double play. We have hustlers out there. Our defense is there. We've just got to work on hitting a little bit."

"Southwest has a really good defense," Overton added. "Their wins and losses are usually by one run."

Sudduth picked up the win. She struck out five, walked two and allowed one run on three hits.

Monica Lopez started the game on the mound for the Eagles, allowing one hit and one walk in three innings.

Freshman Arynne Valdez headed to the mound for Southwest to start the fourth inning. Niebla wanted to get her some work.

"It's kind of to build up the confidence level a little bit for her," Niebla said. "She needs to get into some of these games so she can help us out if it comes really close in the end. I know she can do it. She's a strong pitcher. She can hang at this level as a freshman. Putting her out there in games like this just helps her confidence. I wanted her to know she could do it and not get blown away."

Valdez gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in four innings. She struck out three.

Poor base running proved costly for the Eagles. Twice they started innings with singles and twice it was for naught as the base runner was caught off first in the next at bat.

Earlier this year, the teams got together for a rumble, with Brawley coming out on top in convincing fashion.

"It really looks like Southwest is coming along," Overton said. "I like their defense. Their defense is really good. They got a really nice double play. Their defense is stronger and our offense isn't kicking like it should."

The Eagles seem to be a different team since the last matchup.

"Our pitchers weren't hitting their points the last game. They were hanging the ball," Niebla said. "Brawley was hitting, hitting, hitting. It was at the beginning of the season. We had only been in season about two weeks and we had a lot of changes. I had a different infield. I think it was just beginning; we were new. We hadn't found a set defense yet. People were moving around and the pitchers were probably a little nervous That was the first game of our league. It probably makes a difference now that we've played some San Diego teams, we've gone to a tournament in Laughlin and we've seen this kind of pitching."

Brawley improved to 5-2 in league and 13-7 overall. Southwest dropped to 3-4 in the IVL and 4-7 overall.

"The girls played good overall," Niebla said. "We really needed a win, but it seems we're the team that's giving up the one-run games. We're coming around. We're a strong team. Hopefully we'll come back hard."

The Wildcats host Holtville at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday while Southwest heads to Imperial for a game at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Imperial 4, Holtville 3

IMPERIAL — The Imperial High softball team defeated Holtville High School 4-3 in Imperial Valley League action here Friday.

Both teams play Tuesday with Holtville playing at Brawley at 3:15 p.m. and Imperial hosting Southwest at 4:15 p.m.

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