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Cents softball make a run, give a run

Posted: April 18, 2008 1:40 a.m.
Updated: June 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Without glancing at the scoreboard after Saugus and Valencia's Foothill League softball game Thursday, the casual observer might have guessed Saugus had just pulled off a dramatic bottom of the seventh victory.

The Centurions cheered in right field while the Vikings - the No. 9 team in the state according to CalHiSports.com, sat huddled around head coach Donna Lee silently in left field.

Unfortunately for Saugus, the scoreboard read 1-0 in favor of Valencia, but even to Lee, it appeared that the Centurions (10-12-1, 3-2) should have won the game.

"They deserved to win," Lee said. "They outplayed us and definitely deserved to win this game. It was a moral win for them and a 'W' for us."

Saugus stayed with Valencia pitch for pitch until the final ball, when Centurions starting pitcher Ashley Imperial delivered a 3-1 pitch to Viking Lani Bernardino just high. It walked in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, with two outs at Valhalla Field at Valencia.

"Julie (Watson, Saugus head coach) had those girls ready to play and they played a great game," Lee said.

The Centurions put together a mini rally in the top of the first against Valencia starting pitcher Jessica Spigner, getting two runners on before Ashley Butera struck out to end the threat.

Spigner then settled down to retire the next 12 Saugus batters, recording two strikeouts in the process and not allowing another runner past second base.

On the other side of the plate, Imperial sat down the Vikings in order in four of her seven innings of work and did nearly enough to earn the win.

In the seventh, however, Valencia (18-5, 3-1) finally came through.

Just two days after losing to Hart in the seventh inning, the Vikings turned the tables and got back into the win column thanks to three walks and a hit batsmen.

Caitlin Rooney and Shannon Fitzgerald each walked to put two on with two outs. Alyssa Garza then stepped to the plate and was hit by a pitch bringing Bernardino to the plate for the final at-bat of the game.

On a 3-1 pitch, Imperial threw a pitch that stayed just out of the zone forcing in Rooney for the winning run.

"I was hoping she would give me a pitch to hit," Bernardino said. "I really wanted to hit, but I got the walk and the win."

After, however, it was the Centurions racing to join their coach as the Vikings trudged to join theirs after narrowly avoiding their second straight loss.

"We didn't play our game. We just need to work harder and get pumped up," Bernardino said. "We just aren't playing our game."

Lee agreed.

"I told them we have to bounce back. We have to send a message to the league after our loss and we have to take care of business just to make sure the next game against Hart means something," she said.

For Watson and Saugus, it was a boost heading into the second half of the season.

"We were in it all seven innings," Watson said. "They did a great job and could've won the game, but it just wasn't our day. But, I am so proud of them. We know we can play with the best."

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