eagles knock off wildcats

March 20, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

For two innings it seemed the Southwest High softball team did just about everything it could to lose its Imperial Valley League opener against defending champion Brawley Union High in El Centro on Tuesday.

But after putting themselves in a 3-0 hole, the upstart Eagles rallied to pull out a 6-3 victory.

"Today was a big game for us. I think this is going to set the attitude for the rest of the season," said Southwest coach Stephanie Niebla. "This was a tough game for us, but I've told the team that I think every league game is going to be as tough as this."

The Eagles didn't do themselves any favors as they committed six errors, all in the first four innings. The errors that really hurt Southwest came in the first two innings as three miscues turned into three Brawley runs.


Scoring for the Wildcats in the first was Stephanie Murray, who reached on an error, then scored on a Leighan Sudduth single to center.

Brawley tacked on two more in the third as Carol Salazar and Karla Price both reached base on errors. Salazar later scored on a passed ball and Price reached home on a fielder's choice to give the Wildcats a 3-0 advantage.

While the Southwest defense struggled, Eagle freshman pitcher Melissa Lerno held her own, giving up only four hits, striking out eight and allowing no earned runs in a complete game.

"I thought Melissa did a good job out there. She's a tough girl. When the defense makes errors, she just comes back and pitches even stronger," said Niebla.

Lerno held the Wildcats in check the final five innings, giving up only three hits and allowing no runs. One of her biggest victims of the day was Sudduth, who struck out three times after recording her team's first hit.

"I thought it was good for me to strike her out because she's one of the best players around. So I was pretty happy about that," said Lerno.

Things didn't go any better for Sudduth on the mound as she took the loss, giving up nine hits and allowing two earned runs.

Errors hurt the Eagles early, but they were the eventual undoing of Brawley.

After Andrea Miramontes scored on a Monica Lopez single in the third to cut the deficit to 3-1, Southwest capitalized on two Brawley errors in the fourth to tie the contest and then take the lead.

After singling to begin the fourth, Jessica Conway scored on an error. P.J. Enders recorded the second run of the frame, reaching home on a Stephanie Garcia single, who later scored on a Brawley error.

Up 4-3 entering the sixth, Southwest added two insurance runs off reliever Stephanie Murray. Enders scored the first run of the frame on an error and Garcia added the second on a Monica Lopez base hit.

"Once we got in our groove I knew we'd be able to make things happen," said Niebla. "I think today we proved what we can do."

Lopez finished 3-for-4 with an RBI, Garcia was 2-for-3 with two runs and Miramontes was 2-for-3 with a run.

Erin Rutherford led the Brawley offense with two hits.

"Errors really hurt us. We just couldn't overcome them," said Brawley coach Chris Velasco. "For us, this is just a learning experience. But I think we'll get everything together and we'll do well the rest of the year."

Lerno said the game meant more than just another victory.

"I really wanted to play this game. I think everyone wants to play Brawley because they're one of the best and because they were champs last year," said Lerno. "I've actually been looking forward to playing them since I was in seventh grade."

Brawley (6-4 overall) hosts Holtville at 3:15 p.m. Friday and Southwest (4-3) competes in the Warhawk Easter Invitational in San Diego onMonday.

Imperial 5, Holtville 1

IMPERIAL — The Imperial High softball team used a five-run fifth inning to kick off Imperial Valley League play with a 5-1 victory over Holtville here Tuesday.

Lindsay Lugo picked up the win on the mound, striking out three and giving up five hits.

Freshmen Melanie Medina and Stephanie Ortega combined to go 4-for-6 with four RBI. Medina had with a triple and a run.

Lauren Huyler took the loss for the Vikings (6-3 overall) giving up five hits, striking out three and giving up only one earned run.

Michelle Strahm went 3-for-3 with a double and Jessica Young finished 2-for-3 with an RBI for Holtville.

Imperial (6-3) plays Palo Verde at 9 a.m. Friday on the opening day of the Palo Verde tournament in Blythe.

Central 5, Calexico 0

CALEXICO — Nicky Carrion struck out five and gave up only four hits as the Central Union High softball team blanked Calexico 5-0 in both teams' Imperial Valley League opener here Tuesday.

Carrion pitched a complete game and only walked one for Central (4-3).

Leading the Spartan offense were Marissa Guzman, who went 2-for-2 and Clarissa Maldonado, who recorded a triple with two RBI.

Marisol Cuevas took the loss for Calexico, pitching a complete game, striking out eight, giving up eight hits and allowing two earned runs.

Blanca Patino finished 2-for-3 with a double and Linda Mendoza was 1-for-2 for Calexico.

The Bulldogs (0-5) play Palm Springs at 11 a.m. Friday in the Palo Verde tournament in Blythe while Central will play at 3 p.m. Friday at Kofa of Yuma, the No. 5 ranked team in Division 5A in Arizona.

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