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Foothill softball: Alive again

Vikes shake skid, rally past league leaders

Posted: April 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia catcher Karlie Habitz (20) celebrates her two-run home run against Saugus with teammates Chelsea Dolan (7), Carly Mortensen (15), Caitlin Rooney, center, Kristina Brackpool, back right, and Bethany Kemp on Thursday at Saugus High School.

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A loss would have effectively put the Valencia softball team's run of 10 straight Foothill League titles in serious jeopardy.

It would have also dropped the Vikings to their worst league start in 15 years.

And early on, a loss looked imminent.

"We talked about protecting our legacy," said Valencia head coach Donna Lee, "and the girls didn't want this year to be the one we didn't win the Foothill League. This game was pivotal."

The Vikings racked up 17 hits and rallied from a six-run deficit to give junior varsity call-up Sydney Mundell a clean slate in her first-ever varsity appearance and Valencia beat first-place Saugus 13-7 on Thursday at Saugus High School.

Mundell entered the game with the score tied 7-7 in the bottom of third, relieving starter Nicole Miller. Everyday pitcher Carly Mortensen missed her second straight game with a forearm injury.

Even though Thursday marked Mundell's first-ever varsity appearance after being called up to the team Monday, the sophomore appeared poised in the circle, displayed good movement and held the previously Foothill-unbeaten Centurions without a run through the final five innings. She struck out two and allowed four hits.

"I was ready to go," Mundell said. "I thought (I would pitch). I hoped so. Nicole did a great job. I'm just glad we all had each other's back."

Valencia (16-3, 2-2) fell behind 7-1 after surrendering six unearned runs in the second inning, but responded by scoring six runs of its own off six hits in the third.

The Vikings jumped on three different Saugus pitchers and scored 12 unanswered runs in the rally, avoiding a 1-3 league record after dropping their last two games. The last time Valencia opened league 1-3 was in 1996, it’s inaugural season.

"We didn't want to let everyone that came before us down," said Vikings freshman Maddy Jelenicki, who finished 4-for-4 with a walk, a double, an RBI and two runs scored.

Saugus (18-4-0, 3-1) went ahead 1-0 in the first when shortstop Jenna Kelly's RBI double scored Christin Clark.

Viking Sarah Solano's RBI single tied the score in the second inning, but the Centurions responded with a six-run bottom half of the frame, capped by catcher Ashley Butera's two-run triple. Saugus had five hits in the inning and capitalized on a pair of Valencia errors.

"We got comfortable," Kelly said. "We can't let (the loss) get to us. We have to learn from it, learn from our mistakes."

The Vikings' six-run response was highlighted by Kristina Brackpool's two-run double and a three-RBI triple by Solano to knot things up.

"I just wanted to get runs for the team," Solano said. "I told myself, ‘Just put the ball in play.'"

Valencia did just that in the fourth inning as well, scoring four runs to take an 11-7 lead.

Vikings catcher Karlie Habitz provided the big hit, sending a two-run home run over the right-center-field wall. Third baseman Caitlin Rooney added her team's final runs in the seventh when her single to left scored Bethany Kemp and Jelenicki.

Everyone in Valencia's lineup recorded at least one hit. Brackpool was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Habitz and Solano each finished 2-for-4.

Clark led Saugus at the plate, hitting 3-for-4. The right fielder also robbed Kemp of a solo home run in the fourth inning. Kate Karppinen batted 2-for-4 with an RBI. Cassie Herrera took the loss, giving up four runs in one inning of relief for starter Kimmie Lockhart.

The Centurions are now tied for first place in league at 3-1 with West Ranch, which beat Canyon 5-4 on Tuesday, while Valencia and Hart are each 2-2 after the Indians' 12-0 win over Golden Valley.

"Sometimes, it's good to lose games like this," said Saugus head coach Julie Watson, whose team won its three previous games by just over nine runs per contest. "We were getting too cocky."



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