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Foothill League softball: Victory at last

Golden Valley wins first Foothill game since ’08

Posted: April 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

The Golden Valley softball team celebrates after a 4-3 victory over Canyon at Golden Valley High on Thursday. It was the team’s first Foothill League victory since April 15, 2008.

Foothill League softball teams have often overlooked Golden Valley.

Against Canyon, the Grizzlies proved that is no longer the case.

Golden Valley pitcher Sydney Herrera pitched a complete game and plated Branndi Melero on a squeeze play for the go-ahead run in a four-run fifth inning to beat the Cowboys for the first time in program history 4-3 on Thursday at Canyon High School.

The Grizzlies entered the contest 2-39 in league play, having lost 27 Foothill games in a row dating back to an 11-4 win over West Ranch on April 15, 2008.

“It’s a completely new beginning,” said Melero, a four-year varsity player. “We wanted to show everyone who we are and leave our hearts on the field. It’s a big turnaround.”

Golden Valley (9-10, 1-1) found itself down 3-0 heading into the fifth inning, but erased the deficit with a series of pressure-packed plays.

Second baseman Savannah Martinez led off the inning with a single and quickly moved to third on Emily Smith’s double. With both runners in scoring position, catcher Jessica Guerrero singled and advanced to second on Canyon’s throwing error as Martinez crossed the plate.

Two batters later, Melero singled home Smith, who slid under the tag and pulled the Grizzlies to within one run. Melero stole second during the next at-bat, and Guerrero sprinted home on the throw to tie the score.

Moments later, Herrera put down a bunt and took off up the baseline. While the ball sailed toward first, Melero raced home for what proved to be the game-winner.

“We had a rough first inning, and that’s not how we play at all,” Herrera said. “We came out (afterward) and played like we know how to play, and that’s what won the game.”

The sophomore pitcher finished with two strikeouts, allowed 11 hits and surrendered three runs, all in the first inning.

During the opening frame, Canyon (11-7, 1-1) capitalized on multiple errors to take a commanding 3-0 lead.

Cowboys senior center fielder Jenny Wunderlich led off with a bunt single. Freshman shortstop Tiffany Dyson followed with a single of her own, and advanced to second on an error. Junior catcher Courtney Ziese stepped to the plate and drove a double to center field to score Wunderlich and Dyson. Hayley Bottino followed suit with a single that scored Haley Trujillo, Ziese’s courtesy runner.

Canyon was coming off its first win over Hart in nine years, but wasn’t able to ride the momentum.

“We took them lightly,” said Cowboys head coach Dwain Whalen. “Golden Valley is an improved team. We got three runs, then we got complacent.”

Canyon had its chances to tack on more runs, after loading the bases in the fourth inning and putting runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh.

But Herrera stayed calm and was aided by her defense, particularly in the final inning.

With no outs and Dyson on second and Ziese on first, Bottino sent a fly ball to deep center field. But Erica Esparza pulled it down and doubled up Dyson at second.

Danielle Sullivan took the loss for Canyon despite a strong outing, striking out four and allowing five hits. Sullivan also batted 2-for-4 with a double. Leanne Hill pitched a hitless sixth and seventh inning, and Ziese finished 3-for-4 at the plate.

Canyon will look to rebound Tuesday at Saugus, while the Grizzlies look for their first-ever league winning streak at West Ranch.

“I couldn’t even sleep last night,” said first-year Golden Valley head coach Hugo Castillo. “I wanted them to win a game so bad. They are improving a lot faster than expected.”


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