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Prep softball: Canyon’s sticking around

Halfway through league, Cowboys stay two back of leaders

Posted: April 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Canyon High’s Courtney Ziese (21) is welcomed home in the third inning after hitting the first of two home runs against Hart on Tuesday at Newhall Park.

 

Canyon left fielder Kaelie Doyle backed up to within three feet of the fence, then squeezed her glove around a fly ball for the final out of the game.

It was that close of an escape for the Cowboys.

Canyon built a five-run lead through five innings and padded it just enough to beat Hart 9-8 on Tuesday at Newhall Memorial Park.

The win means Canyon (14-7 overall, 2-3 Foothill League) remains two games behind the three co-leaders through the first half of league play.

The Cowboys can thank their renewed offensive prowess for that.

“(Hart’s) a good-hitting team,” said Canyon head coach Dwain Whalen. “We knew we had to get our hits. It’s been a problem for us.”

Canyon had struggled offensively in its last three league games, all of which were losses.

Once Hart (11-9-1, 1-4) cut the lead to 6-4 after the sixth inning on Tuesday, Canyon went back to work. Hayley Bottino and Courtney Ziese drew back-to-back walks with one out, and Lexi Lotito was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Tiffany Dyson singled home pinch runner Hailey Alquitela, and Julianna Carlos drove in Ziese and Lotito with a single before being thrown out at second.

The 9-4 advantage proved to be enough. Hart’s Tracy Chandless scored on a double by Jenae Coleman in the bottom of the seventh, and Juli Strange followed with a three-run home run.

One batter later, Bottino induced the flyout to Doyle to end the game.

“I have complete confidence in not only my pitching but also my defense,” said Bottino, who gave up six hits and six walks in a complete-game win.

The win looked like a sure thing for most of the game. After giving up a run in the first inning, Canyon responded in the top of the second with production from the bottom of its lineup.

Lotito led off with a double, and Paige Johnson followed with a double to plate Lotito. Dyson then hit a drive down the third-base line that smacked off Chandless’ glove and eventually wound up as a ground-rule double, scoring Johnson.

In the third, Courtney Ziese and Lotito hit back-to-back solo home runs, and Ziese belted a two-run shot in the fifth to push the lead to 6-1.

Canyon appeared to be in firm control. Hart had other plans.

“(The home runs) played a huge role,” Ziese said. “We can’t take a team like that lightly.”

Chandless and Strange both hit home runs as part of the Indians’ three-run sixth, which got them within two runs.

Blake Lewis started the game in the circle for Hart but lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits, including Ziese and Lotito’s back-to-back home runs.

“They played better than we did,” said Hart head coach Steve Calendo. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Strange finished 2-for-3 with five RBIs and a walk for Hart, while Chandless went 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBIs.

Ziese wound up 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs, while Lotito was 2-for-3 and also scored three times.

For Whalen, the most important thing was staying within striking distance of the league leaders.

“We’re trying to stay up near the top, in the mix,” he said.

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