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Foothill League softball: The girls hold on

West Ranch stops determined Hart late

Posted: May 9, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 9, 2012 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch’s Lauren Lindvall rounds third base after hitting a home run against Hart during the third inning on Tuesday at West Ranch High School.

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The West Ranch softball team has been waiting a while for its first Foothill League title.

So, when the Wildcats entered the seventh inning on Tuesday with a three-run lead over Hart and three outs standing in the way of their first outright league title, it was fitting that the Indians wouldn’t go quickly.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Hart’s Seirra Quiala brought Hart within a run with a two-run single to left field.

But West Ranch rebounded, as West Ranch pitcher Bailey Foster induced a game-ending groundout to hold on for a 7-6 victory at West Ranch High.

“The direction of the school has really taken a turn to try to make the sports competitive,” said West Ranch head coach Bob Shults, adding that the school is also strong academically. “We really made it clear, we’re going to try to win a Foothill League championship. And ultimately, someday, win a CIF championship.”

While a CIF title may be somewhere in the school’s future, Tuesday was about the league title.

The Wildcats now sit at 8-1 in the Foothill League, and hold a two-game lead with one to play.

Entering the season, expectations for West Ranch were high, with the majority of the league’s coaches predicting either the Wildcats or rival Valencia to take the title.

But things got off to a shaky start when the Wildcats were shut out by Valencia 4-0 in the first week of league play.

“This has been the most stressful (year) because expectations bring out the worst, but also the best in players,” Shults said.

The best was on display the rest of the way, as Tuesday’s victory was West Ranch’s eighth straight after the early loss.

“Everyone had different expectations,” said West Ranch senior catcher Janelle Lindvall. “But the team really came together and figured out we could do it.”

Against Hart, things weren’t so shaky at the start, with the Wildcats jumping on the Indians early.

Julia Lombardi drove in Lindvall in the first inning to give West Ranch a 1-0 lead.

That started a pattern which saw West Ranch score one run in each of the first five innings, before putting up two in the sixth.

Carrying a 3-0 lead into the fourth, things started to get away from Foster.

After back-to-back doubles scored a run for Hart to lead off the inning, Paxton Provost sent a two-run home run over the left-field fence to put Hart ahead 4-3.

That lead didn’t last long, though, as two Hart errors led to Lauren Lindvall’s RBI groundout to tie the score at four runs apiece.

Lauren Lindvall went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a solo home run to lead West Ranch.

“We didn’t make enough plays,” said Hart head coach Steve Calendo. “We gave a good team too many opportunities.”
The Indians committed three errors in the game, and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch in both the fifth and sixth innings.

But Hart was given opportunities of its own in the seventh.

After putting away the first two batters of the inning, Foster walked two and allowed a bloop single by Juli Strange to load the bases.

Quiala’s single brought Hart within one as Foster and her teammates met at the mound — with a championship in the balance.

“I knew I couldn’t think too much about (the league title),” Foster said. “When I think too much, I struggle.”

So she didn’t think about it, and threw her pitch, inducing a groundout to win the championship.

And now, West Ranch’s wait is finally over.

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