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Huge sigh of relief

Canyon softball almost pulls off a very big upset

Posted: April 15, 2009 1:50 a.m.
Updated: April 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Winning eight straight league titles means that every time Valencia softball steps onto the field, its opponent will be gunning to take down the champ.

Such was the case Tuesday when Canyon pushed the Vikings to extra innings before Valencia scored an unearned run to pick up a 3-2 road victory in it’s Foothill League opener.

“We gave them the game,” said Canyon head coach Mike Rego. “There’s no other way for us to look at it, unfortunately. Ultimately, I’m very proud of our girls, but you just can’t make mistakes and expect to win against a team of this caliber.”

Canyon (7-8, 0-1) starter Danielle Sullivan was solid through out eight innings of work, but she hit a rough spot in the third when a lead-off walk started a two-run rally.

Valencia’s Shannon Fitzgerald, who drew the free pass, came around to score on an Annie Dreher single before Sullivan had a costly sequence on the mound.

Sullivan booted a come-backer and committed a throwing error in an attempt to cut down Megan Fogelsong on her way to third with two outs, allowing the Vikings (15-4, 1-0) to open a 2-0 lead.

Canyon answered back with a solo home run off the bat of Brittany Williams.

“It’s like I told the team after the game, this isn’t like non-league play,” said Valencia head coach Donna Lee. “These girls know that you’ve been on top for a long time, and they want a piece of you. Today we were able to take care of business, but it was not easy.”

Canyon pushed across its second run in the sixth when Courtney Ziese singled home Jenny Wunderlich.

The Cowboys had the bases loaded with two outs, but Valencia starter Carly Mortensen induced a ground out to end the inning.

“I thought Carly pitched a great game,” Lee said of her freshman hurler, who pitched eight innings, allowing only four hits. “She had her peaks and valleys out there, but overall she did a really good job of giving us what we needed to win this game.”

It was third baseman Caitlin Rooney’s eighth inning, lead-off single, her third hit of the game, that keyed the rally that ultimately won the game for Valencia.

Rooney advanced to second on a sacrifice and took third on an error, setting second baseman Bethany Kemp up with a chance to knock Rooney home.

“I told Bethany we needed her to just get the ball in the air,” Lee said. “She hadn’t managed to get the ball out of the infield, but she did exactly what we needed in the eighth.”

Kemp lofted a high fly ball to center field, which let Rooney tag and cross home.

Mortensen closed the door in the bottom of the eighth, capping the game with a strikeout of Sullivan.

While the game goes in the loss column for Canyon, Rego still sees the battle as an example of the potential his team possesses.
“We hung with one of the best teams in the state,” Rego said. “We were able to contain a very good offense, and I know that Canyon has been overlooked for too long. If we can make a few more plays then people won’t be looking past us anymore.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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