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Foothill League softball: Indians share their burden

Injury-riddled Hart sends ailing Valencia to another loss

Posted: April 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 20, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Hart right fielder Elizabeth Henry hits a home run during the second inning against Valencia on Tuesday at Newhall Park.

 

Hart softball has battled through a mixture of shuffled lineups, injuries and losses early in Foothill League play.

That may no longer be the Indians’ burden to bear.

Hart hit two home runs and used a four-run fifth inning to shake an early three-run deficit and top a Carly Mortensen-less Valencia 6-3 on Tuesday at Newhall Park.

The game marked the Indians’ first victory over the Vikings since a 1-0 win on April 15, 2008.

Hart came into Tuesday on a two-game league losing streak, but after a pair of high-scoring wins on Saturday in the Thousand Oaks Tournament, it appears to have found a groove.

“It gives us a push to keep winning games,” said Hart first baseman Blake Lewis, who finished 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. “Hopefully this is the start of a new beginning for the rest of the season.”

Valencia has now lost two straight league games for the first time since 2009 when it dropped back-to-back contests to Saugus and Canyon.

Senior Nicole Miller got the start in place of Mortensen, who sat out with pain and swelling in her pitching arm. According to Mortensen, her return is dependant on her pain level. No timetable has been set.

“It’s frustrating, especially looking on,” she said.

Miller threw a strong game in her stead, despite entering the day with only 10 1/3 varsity innings to her credit.

The senior enjoyed a 3-0 lead after the first inning, when third baseman Caitlin Rooney’s RBI single scored Bethany Kemp from second, Kristina Brackpool’s two-run single to center field plated Vanessa Lightfoot and Rooney.

But the lead didn’t hold.

“Toward the end of the game, we got lackadaisical and let up a little bit,” Brackpool said. “Our pitcher pitched a great game, but we didn’t back her up.”

Then Hart (13-7, 1-2) began to chip away.

Indians right fielder Elizabeth Henry and Lewis each hit solo home runs to left-center field in the second and fourth innings, respectively, to make the score 3-2.

Most damage was done in the fifth inning, though, when Hart recorded four runs off five hits.

Senior Brenna Carlson, who normally plays shortstop, started at catcher for the third straight game and opened the scoring with an RBI single that scored Nikki Haslock. Juli Strange added an RBI single, and Lewis tacked on insurance with a two-run single that scored Tracy Chandless and Strange.

Escamilla allowed just four hits after the first inning and made sure not to let the early runs get to her. She finished with five strikeouts.

“You can’t allow that to get into your mind,” Escamilla said. “Once you fail mentally, you fail physically.”

Valencia (15-3, 1-2) put two runners on in the seventh inning, but could not find the runs it needed.

“They have potent hitters,” said Indians head coach Steve Calendo of the Vikings. “They are good defensively and are well coached. Obviously, missing Carly hurt, but injuries happen in softball.”

Miller pitched a complete game in place of Mortensen, striking out two and allowing six earned runs on eight hits, most of which came in the fifth.

Brackpool led the Vikings at the plate by hitting 2-for-3 with a stolen base.

The key for Valencia to end its slide, Rooney said, is to just get back on the field.

“I think we just need to come together as a team, because we have a big game against Saugus,” she said of Thursday’s matchup.

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