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Canyon softball stuns Vikings

Cowboys extend winning streak to five games with upset win over Valencia

Posted: April 30, 2009 10:31 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Valencia and Canyon softball have gone in opposite directions this decade.

And they’re still doing it — though things are somewhat reversed.

For the first time since April 21, 2000, Canyon defeated mighty Valencia Thursday with a 5-3 victory.

The formerly down-trodden Cowboys are now winners of five straight and Valencia, the two-time defending CIF-Southern Section Division I champions, has lost two in a row.

Valencia head coach Donna Lee was still looking for answers after the game, as a few costly errors, a lack of firepower and one tough freshman pitcher were just too much for the Vikings.

“I can say woulda, coulda, shoulda, but we just lost both games,” Lee said. “Offensively, we got too comfortable with three runs, and there was no sense of urgency.

“We’re playing to the level of our opponents. We’re letting teams play with us.”

Lee, who has been the coach of Valencia (20-6, 4-2) for the last 14 years couldn’t even remember the last time her team lost to Canyon (12-11, 3-3), a 1-0 loss nine years ago.

For Canyon head coach Mike Rego and a young team that seemed eager to prove themselves after losing 3-2 to the Vikings in extra innings to start Foothill League play, it was a statement game.

“First of all, I want to get on record — we’re not the same-old Canyon that everyone just bypasses,” Rego said. “We’ve got a solid team and we’ve proved it — that we can beat any team at any time.”

The Cowboys scored first, capitalizing on an errant throw to first base after a triple by Jenny Wunderlich and a pair of walked batters left the bases loaded. The error turned a would-be out by Hayley Bottino into a double and gave Canyon a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Madison Shipman answered for Valencia in the bottom half of the inning, following up a single by Amy Moore with a two-run home run to deep left-center field, tying score.

The Vikings took the lead in the next inning, also taking advantage of an error at first base, after a hit by Annie Dreher brought in Bethany Kemp to put Valencia ahead 3-2.

Canyon’s freshman ace Bottino, kept her team in the game for the next five innings, allowing no runs for the rest of the game and kept her composure after three separate pitches were hit directly at her.

One actually hit the pitcher, but all three resulted in outs for her team.

“It hurt, but I knew I had to get back out there and pitch my hardest — you know, take one for the team,” Bottino said. “It was nerve-wracking, but I have a fantastic team and they play great defense so I knew we could make it happen.”

Ciana Rego talked about a difference in mentality for her team, adding that after a few wins under their belts, the Cowboys are playing like a team that expects to win, not just compete.

In the top of the sixth, trailing by one run, Rego gave the Cowboys life by taking a count to nine pitches with the last one resulting in a dropped pitch that brought home Taylor Anderson.

Anderson had bunted and got on with an error, then stole second and made it to third on a sacrifice by Amber Evans.  

While the team caught a few breaks along the way, Rego said the real difference was the confidence she and her teammates were playing with.

“This time we knew our potential,” she said. “Last time we played (Valencia), we were kind of timid about how good we actually were. After playing all the teams (and) coming out winning, we kind of knew our potential and knew we could beat them.”

As Canyon’s at-bats stretched the pitch-count and Valencia starter Carly Mortensen’s arm began to show fatigue, Lee brought in Sarah Enriquez with the score tied and the bases loaded.

After McKenna Smith and Bottino were hit by pitches to bring in the winning runs (the second time Bottino was hit), Mortensen returned to the mound.

But the damage was done.

Bottino managed to retire the next three and Canyon had its first victory against Valencia in recent memory.

“I’m a senior and this is my last time playing Valencia, so for us to go and win by two, three, I don’t care, it’s more than one, which is a big deal,” Ciana Rego said.

psmith@the-signal.com

 

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