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Foothill League softball: Extras special

Saugus clinches at least share of title on late homer, ends Vikes’ run

Posted: May 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Saugus right fielder Erika Ecsedy hits a two-run home run to put Saugus ahead 4-2 in the eighth inning against Valencia on Tuesday at Valencia. The Centurions clinched a share of the Foothill League title and ended the Vikings’ 10-year run as champions.

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When the ball left Saugus right fielder Erika Ecsedy’s bat, everyone knew it was going over the fence.
Everyone, that is, except Ecsedy.

“I didn’t see it go over,” she said. “I had my head down and was just thinking two (bases).”

Ecsedy got a lot more than that.

The senior’s two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning didn’t just give the Centurions a 4-2 win over Valencia on Tuesday in front of a packed house at Valencia’s Valhalla Field, it ended the Vikings’ 10-year reign as Foothill League champions.

With the win, Saugus (22-5, 7-2) clinched at least a share of league title with only last-place Golden Valley in the way of its first outright championship since 1999.

The Centurions shared the Foothill title with Hart and the Vikings (20-5, 5-4) in 2004.

“Saugus used to be the legacy with the CIF title in 1996 and winning all the league titles,” said Centurions head coach Julie Watson, who played for the Centurions in 1999. “The girls always talked about bringing that back.”

The loss puts Valencia two games out of first place with only one to play and marks the first time since 2000 that the Vikings didn’t at least share the league title.

“I told the girls, you’ve got to keep your eyes on the prize, and that’s CIF,” said Valencia head coach Donna Lee. “Of course we would have liked to win league, but it was not in the cards this year. You’ve got to give (Saugus) kudos, they came up with the big hit when they needed to.”

The biggest of those hits came in the extra frame off Valencia ace Carly Mortensen.

Mortensen, who missed most of league play with a forearm injury and was cleared Friday to pitch, entered the contest in the second inning for starter Sydney Mundell. The junior was dominant in relief, striking out eight and allowing just two hits heading into the eighth.

“I’m as well as I need to be,” Mortensen said. “I felt pretty good out there.”

But tied 2-2 with Brea Bregara on second, Ecsedy launched a 1-1 pitch to right-center field to give her team a 4-2 cushion heading into the bottom of the inning.

Centurions pitcher Kimmie Lockhart, who took over for starter Alanna Layton in the sixth, only yielded a walk, and recorded the last two outs of the game on strikeouts.

“My defense had me pumped up,” Lockhart said. “They were in my ear saying I got it.”

Ecsedy highlighted that defensive effort, recording multiple diving catches in front of the wall in the third inning. She finished 3-for-4 at the plate, while shortstop Jenna Kelly was 1-for-3 with an RBI double in the first inning that scored Abby Linn and put Saugus up 1-0.

Centurion freshman Alyssa Rodriguez pushed the lead to 2-0 in the second on an RBI double to left field that scored Escedy and prompted Mortensen’s call to the circle.

Layton carried the advantage into the fifth inning, but was finally stung by Viking senior Bethany Kemp’s towering solo home run to left field. A few batters later, freshman Maddy Jelenicki came around on a wild pitch and knotted the score at 2-2.

Kemp finished 3-for-4.

Layton gave up five hits and struck out two through five innings, pitching her way out of multiple jams.

In all, the Vikings left 11 runners on base to Saugus’ five.

“We’ve all worked as hard as possible,” said Kelly, one of the Centurions’ 11 rostered seniors. “We came up with big hits in big games all through league, not just today.”

With West Ranch one game out of first, Saugus can lock up the league title on Thursday with a win over the Grizzlies or a Wildcats loss to Hart. Valencia, which is currently tied for third with the Indians, hosts Canyon.

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