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freshman battery sparks eagles

March 13, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

The Southwest High softball team caught a glimpse of its future against Indio High in El Centro on Tuesday as freshmen Melissa Lerno and Nikki Cordova helped lead the team to a 5-4 victory.

The two are the only ninth graders on the varsity and both played big roles in the team's home opener as Lerno picked up the win on the mound. Cordova was behind the plate.

Lerno finished with four strikeouts, gave up only two hits and no runs in five innings and went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs. Cordova went 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Eagles.


"Both are players that we're expecting a lot out of. Even though they're both freshmen, we still have high expectations for them," said Southwest coach Stephanie Niebla. "We have a real young team, but everyone is out here to play softball."

Another deciding factor was the Southwest offense, which collected 10 hits. The Eagles hurt themselves defensively, though, committing five errors, two in the seventh inning when the Rajahs scored all four runs.

"Our bats are going to be key for us this year and I thought we did a good job today," said Niebla. "Defensively, though, we're still committing errors and that's something we're going to have to work on. Even though we gave up those runs I was pretty confident that we'd pull it out."

Southwest cruised through the first six innings.

Lerno led off the bottom of the first with a double and reached third on a Diana Verduzco single. With runners on first and third, Cordova connected on a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Lerno. Verduzco then scored on an Indio error.

After reaching first on an error, Melissa Frausto scored the third run of the frame on a Jessica Conway single.

The Eagles tacked on two more runs in the fourth as Arynne Valdez and Lerno scored, giving Southwest a 5-0 lead.

The Eagles held that lead until the seventh when four Rajah hits off reliever Monica Lopez and two errors allowed Indio to score four runs.

Lopez then pulled everything together and forced the final batter to ground out.

Said Lerno: "We just had to go out and play our game. We just played together and played as a team."

Added Cordova: "I thought we played pretty good today. Everything that we're doing now is helping us get ready for the rest of the season."

The Eagles (2-0) compete in the Mojave Invitational beginning Thursday in Bullhead City, Ariz.

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