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Foothill League softball: Hart gives itself a shot

Win over Canyon could lead to at-large playoff spot

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

Hart’s Paxton Provost belts a solo home run, her third of the game, during the fifth inning against Canyon on Thursday at Canyon High School. Hart won 10-4.

When it needed it most, Hart softball’s offense came through.

In what was effectively a must-win game for both Hart and Canyon on Thursday afternoon at Canyon High, the Indians scored their first five runs via the home run en route to a 10-4 victory.

With both teams pushing for an at-large bid to the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs, the day undoubtedly belonged to Hart junior Paxton Provost, who went 3-for-4 with three home runs, four RBIs and four runs scored.

With the victory, Hart stands at 17-10-1 overall and 5-5 in Foothill League play.

That record is almost identical to the 18-11 and 5-5 records that got Hart an at-large bid to the playoffs last season.

“I think we shape up really well (for a playoff spot),” said Hart head coach Steve Calendo. “Some of the losses we have were against very good teams in really close games. And we beat some great teams here at the end. We’re 4-1 the second half of league.”

Canyon (17-11, 4-6) was in a similar situation, but now stands little chance of receiving an at-large bid.

“I’m very proud of this team. We’ve had more wins in a season than I can count. We had bigger wins than we’ve had in the past,” said Canyon head coach Dwain Whalen. “My girls never gave up this year, ever. Every inning, every pitch. It didn’t go the way we expected. It wasn’t the ending we had written for ourselves, but (Hart’s) a good team. I think Foothill League teams are going to go far.”

Paxton showed that quickly on Thursday, hitting the first pitch she saw over the right-center field wall to give Hart a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

She accounted for Hart’s first four runs of the game, adding a solo home run to left-center in the third, and a game-tying one-run bomb down the left-field line in the fifth to tie the score at four.

“She’s swinging a really good bat,” Calendo said. “She hit one off (West Ranch pitcher Bailey Foster on Tuesday). She’s even crushing me in practice.”

Third baseman Tracy Chandless made it back-to-back home runs in the fifth to give Hart a 5-4 lead.

“After the first home run, I was thinking let’s get a base hit,” Provost said. “I just kept it calm and stayed within myself.”

After Provost’s second home run gave Hart a 3-0 advantage in the third, Canyon responded to take its only lead of the game.

Hayley Bottino knocked in two runs on a double, and Courtney Ziese followed with a two-RBI double of her own to put Canyon ahead 4-3.

But the four runs were the only runs Canyon could scratch across.

Indians reliever Hayley Miller relieved starter Blake Lewis to start the fourth and went the final four innings, allowing two hits and no runs and striking out two.

Now the script changes for Hart, which finished strongly after a 1-4 start to the league season.

The CIF-SS Div. I playoff brackets are released on Monday at 10 a.m.

“It’s going to be tough for an at-large team. You have to play a good team on Wednesday and then again on Thursday. But this team didn’t want it to end,” Calendo said.

Notes: In the fifth inning, Canyon freshman Lexi Lotito suffered an injury to her right knee. After grounding out to end the inning, Lotito sustained the injury when her leg made contact with the first-base bag. Lotito was taken off the field in an ambulance and Whalen could not confirm the type or severity of the injury.



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