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Prep softball: Needed boost

Golden Valley gets in the win column for first time in ’12

Posted: March 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Golden Valley’s Stacey Moritz connects with the ball against Vasquez High at Golden Valley High on Wednesday.

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Be patient at the plate, wait for your pitch, and drive the ball back up the middle.

That was the game plan on Wednesday afternoon for the Golden Valley softball team in its contest against visiting Vasquez High at Golden Valley High School.

And from the beginning, the Grizzlies stuck to the plan.

Coming off three straight losses to start the season, Golden Valley used a combination of patience and pitching to earn its first win of the season in a 10-0 five-inning victory over the Mustangs.

Vasquez starting pitcher Ashley Kelly was forced to throw 40 pitches in the first inning, as Golden Valley batters consistently got ahead in the count and posted seven first-inning runs.

“Our girls showed patience and let the ball travel into the zone,” said Golden Valley head coach Hugo Castillo.

Kelly tried to keep the ball down, but as Golden Valley continued to show discipline at the plate, the pitches began to rise and resulted in an all-around offensive explosion for the Grizzlies (1-3).

Seven players knocked in at least one RBI for Golden Valley, led by Erica Esparza’s 2-for-2 day, with a single, a triple, two RBIs and a run.

“We were well balanced,” Castillo said. “That’s how we want everyone to perform.”

In the circle, Golden Valley pitcher Sydney Herrera looked comfortable from the beginning, as she pitched three innings and threw just 26 pitches to earn the win.

“My goal is to throw strikes and, whatever happens, let the defense make the play,” Herrera said of her low-pitch count.

That plan worked well for Herrera, as she gave up just three hits on the day, with one strikeout and no walks.

Up seven runs after one, Herrera got stronger as the game went on, throwing 11 pitches in the first, eight in the second and just seven in the third.

Stacey Moritz closed the game out for Golden Valley, pitching two innings and allowing one hit to preserve the shutout.

Golden Valley tacked on another run in the second, third and fourth innings to increase the lead as Herrera continued to stymie the Mustangs’ offense.

Vasquez (1-2) had an opportunity to get on the board in the top of the fifth inning, as Taylor Sutliff stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.

But the Grizzlies threw out Krista Sutliff at home on Taylor’s grounder to third, and Moritz got the next batter to ground out to first for the final out of the inning.

After finishing in last place in the Foothill League last season, and averaging just 2.6 runs per game in three losses this season, the 10-run performance was a much needed boost for the Grizzlies as they prepare for their third game of the Hart tournament.

Golden Valley will look to keep its balanced attack going when it plays Newbury Park at Central Park at 9 a.m on Saturday.

“Every game we want to come out and win,” Herrera said. “But definitely losing the last three, we had a hunger in our eyes.”

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