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Foothill League softball: Right off the bat

Valencia beats fellow contender West Ranch to open Foothill play

Posted: April 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia’s Nicole Joseph (20) gets a pat on the helmet from teammates Karlie Habitz, left, and Carly Mortensen after scoring against West Ranch during the sixth inning on Tuesday at West Ranch High School. The Vikings won 4-0.

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Valencia softball wasted no time showing its strength at the pitching position when it opened up the Foothill League season at West Ranch High School on Tuesday afternoon.

Vikings ace Carly Mortensen shut down a potent West Ranch offense with 11 strikeouts, allowing just five hits and a walk in a 4-0 Valencia victory.

“I just made sure to mix it up because they’ll make adjustments,” Mortensen said. “I was mixing it up all the time and trusting my defense.”

West Ranch pitcher Bailey Foster did her best to match Mortensen pitch-for-pitch, but a first-inning home run and a three-run sixth inning proved too much for the Wildcats to overcome.

With nobody on and two outs in the top of the first, Kristina Brackpool put the Vikings (14-6 overall, 1-0 Foothill League) ahead with a solo home run.

“It’s huge (to get an early lead),” Mortensen said. “It’s great to pitch with a lead and I knew that fired us up.”

Mortensen looked fired up from start to finish, as she was working ahead in the count consistently and using her rise ball to confuse West Ranch hitters.

“I’m tipping my hat to Carly Mortensen,” said West Ranch head coach Bob Shults. “She’s the best pitcher we’ve seen all year and probably the best we’re going to see.”

West Ranch (10-3, 0-1) only had one runner get past second base against Mortensen, when Jennifer Metcalf was stranded at third in the bottom of the third.

Part of the reason for the Wildcats’ struggles at the plate could be attributed to the lack of playing time they received over spring break, Shults said. West Ranch elected not to play during the week.

Still, Foster kept the Wildcats in the game with a stellar performance of her own until things fell apart in the sixth. She allowed four runs and walked four in seven innings.

The floodgates opened for Valencia in the sixth, when freshman Nicole Joseph hit an RBI double to the left-field wall to score Karlie Habitz.

Sarah Solano followed up with a single to left that scored Joseph, and Rachel Ross-Smith’s RBI single to right capped off the scoring.

Mortensen returned for the bottom of the seventh and threw two more strikeouts, including a strikeout of Taylor Gaff to end the game.

Valencia will be back on the diamond on Thursday when it hosts Hart, while West Ranch will host Golden Valley.
Until then, the Vikings are happy to get their first league win out of the way quickly.

“To play a really tough team and get a win really sets a good tone for the team,” Mortensen said.

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