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Grizzly shutout

Posted: May 7, 2008 2:20 a.m.
Updated: July 8, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Hart High school junior catcher Jessica Shults (18) drives in one of her four RBIs Tuesday afternoon including a two-run homer in the top of teh sixth inning.

Destiny Rodino had reason to be concerned in the second inning of Hart's Foothill League softball matchup against the Lady Grizzlies at Golden Valley High School on Tuesday afternoon.

Despite having a 2-0 lead and retiring the first four batters she faced, Rodino (22-4) gave up a one-out single to Kristen Uthe, followed by consecutive walks to Vickey Luey and Monique Rodriguez with two outs to load the bases.

Yet Golden Valley's (11-14, 1-9) scoring threat lasted only one more pitch, as Amber Jensen March hit a come-backer to Rodino on the first pitch.

Rodino calmly caught the ball off the dirt, turned toward the first base and casually tossed the ball to Jessica Cabrera for the final out.

Failing to score with the bases loaded was as close as Golden Valley came to ruining Hart's league title hopes, as the Indians (23-4, 9-1) defeated the Grizzlies, 10-0. With the victory, Hart secured at least a first-place tie with Valencia in the Frontier League.

Hart has plenty of momentum going into the CIF playoffs, as the Lady Indians won 18 of its final 19 games, including three consecutive. Yet they could not do it without Rodino's pitching, a solid defense and key hitting.

"Destiny is a gamer," said Hart coach Steve Caldeno. "She's been consistent all season long. Three freshman also had hits for us today."

It was up to Rodino, who struck out seven in a three-hit, 89-pitch complete-game shutout, to keep her Hart afloat until the offense woke up.

Though they led, 4-0, after the fifth inning, the Lady Indians left six on base and four runners in scoring position.

Yet the Lady Indians finally connected in the top of the sixth inning, exploding for more runs (6) and almost as many hits (8) than they did in the previous five innings combined (four runs on nine hits).

In that sixth inning, seven of the first eight batters safely reached on base, with the Melissa Brown recording the only out during that stretch on an infield fly rule.

Two batters later, Heather Zimmerman hit a two-run single to center field, the scored herself when catcher Jessica Shults hit a one-out, 3-and-2 pitch over the center field fence for a two-run home run. Shults was 2-for-3 with a home run, sacrifice and four runs batted in.

Freshman Brenna Carlson, who hit three doubles and was 4-for-4 overall, scored the final run on a wild pitch.

"I was just trying to go up there and hit a lot of line drives," she said. "We were all connecting on out hits today."

Carlson also scored a run and had an RBI.

"Shults hit that big home run in the sixth," Calendo said. "Yet (Carlson) also came through for us with the bat today."

For Golden Valley, Uthe had two of the team's three hits - both singles. Senior Ashley Jaramillo had the only other hit, which was a double to center field in the third inning.

The Lady Grizzlies struggled against Rodino and the Hart infield defense all afternoon, as Golden Valley had the minimum number of batters at the plate in four of the six innings.

"Our bats were totally shut down today," said Golden Valley head coach Courtney Carr. "Our pitching was solid for most of the game, but our girls lost focus toward the end of the game."

Starter Cassie Herrera and Uthe both took the mound for Golden Valley, and combined to face only 25 batters in the first five innings.

However, Uthe struggled in her final inning of relief, as she faced 11 batters in the 6-run, 8-hit sixth inning.

The Lady Grizzlies finished the season with its sixth consecutive loss. Since March 24, Golden Valley has lost 11 of its final 12 games. They did not qualify for the playoffs.

With the victory, Hart earned at least a share of the Foothill League title with Valencia, which defeated Saugus later in the afternoon.

Hart, who does not have any more games in the regular season, can win the league title outright if West Ranch defeats Valencia on Thursday.

"We came out here pumped today," Rodino said. "I give all the credit to my defense. I do what I can for them.

"I have complete confidence in our team for the playoffs."


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