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Foothill League softball: Still life in the Cents

Saugus beats Valencia with ninth-inning single

Posted: May 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Saugus High’s Alyssa Rodriguez (12) is swarmed by teammates after hitting the game-winning single against Valencia on Thursday at Saugus High School. The Centurions won the game 4-3.

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With one hit, Saugus softball revived its stance as a Foothill League title contender.

Coming off three straight league losses, the Centurions got a much-needed spark in an extra-innings 4-3 win over Valencia thanks to Alyssa Rodriguez’s walk-off hit on Thursday at Saugus High School.

“This is the way we normally play,” said Saugus head Julie Watson. “The last three games, we kind of lost it.”

The defending league champion Centurions (20-7 overall, 5-3 Foothill League) remain in second place behind West Ranch in the standings.

Rodriguez saved the day for Saugus in the bottom of the ninth when she hit a fly ball to center field with the bases loaded and two out.

The ball managed to fall, allowing Diana Mendoza to score the game-winning run.

“The way we battled back in this game really shows what kind of team we are,” Rodriguez said.

Saugus had been putting pressure on Valencia pitcher Carly Mortensen with regularity in the innings prior to Rodriguez’ bloop hit.

Mortensen gave up four earned runs off 12 hits while striking out 11.

She worked her way out of multiple jams, stranding runners on third base in the fourth and fifth innings.

On the winning side, Saugus sophomore Brandi Burgin threw all nine innings and scattered nine hits and three runs, two earned.

She struck out six in the game.

Valencia (17-10, 4-4) had chances throughout the game, but couldn’t capitalize on enough of them.

“Softball is a game of inches,” said Valencia head coach Donna Lee. “And we didn’t get the inches today.”

Freshman Nicole Joseph got the Vikings’ biggest hit of the day when she drove a 2-0 pitch up the middle for a two-RBI single to bring Vanessa Lightfoot and Tawni O’Brien across the plate in the fifth inning.

That tied the score at 3-3.

O’Brien got aboard earlier in the inning with her third infield hit of the game.

Valencia’s first run of the game came in the third when Wendy Cardinali scored from third on an illegal pitch.

Other than that, Burgin was able to work her way through some sticky situations.

“They were hitting the ball hard,” Lee said of her hitters. “They were just hitting it at people.”

Saugus struck first in the second inning on an RBI single by Karlee Bickford. Two batters later, Alanna Layton came home on a double steal to make it a 2-0 Centurions lead.

Breea Bergara tacked on a run for Saugus when she knocked an RBI triple to deep center field in the fifth.

That was the last of Saugus’ scoring until the three-hit ninth, which set the stage for the walk-off.

With the loss, Valencia drops into fourth place in league with two games remaining, putting its league title hopes on life support.

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