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Valencia softball walks-off on 3-run HR by Nicole Joseph

Vikings defeat Saugus 9-6

Posted: April 9, 2013 8:51 p.m.
Updated: April 9, 2013 8:51 p.m.

Valencia's Kristina Brackpool runs home after a gametying, two-run home run in the sixth while her teammates wait at the plate. Nicole Joseph (20) would hit a walk-off, three-run home run one inning later.

 

 

Protecting a two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Saugus Centurions weren’t going to let the Valencia Vikings’ Kristina Brackpool beat them again — so they issued her an intentional walk to bring Nicole Joseph up with two on and none outs.


And Joseph delivered.


The sophomore third baseman sent a three-run, no-doubt home run over the center-field wall as the Vikings walked off with a 9-6 victory over the Saugus Centurions on Tuesday afternoon at Valencia High in both teams’ Foothill League opener.


“I knew they were going to walk (Brackpool) and that’s a gift to me,” Joseph said. “I went in with absolute confidence that this is my time.”


Brackpool had her turn in the previous inning, launching a first-pitch, two-run home run to tie the score at 4-4 before Saugus scored twice in the top of the seventh.

“I always have a game plan,” Brackpool said. “My first pitch, if it’s a strike I’m taking a hack. I like that situation. The pressure’s on.”

The win sent two messages on the day: first to the rest of the Foothill League that overwhelming preleague favorite Saugus is beatable. Second to Valencia itself, that a young, inexperienced squad can compete with the best the league has to offer.


“This really proves to (the younger kids) that we can really trust in our teammates. I have a lot of confidence in Nicole. I have confidence in each and every one on the team,” Brackpool said.


Things didn’t start off so well for Valencia, though, as the Vikings were struggling to solve freshman Saugus pitcher Mariah Lopez through four innings.


Entering the fifth, the Vikings had managed just two hits and trailed 4-0 before a walk to Brittney Ross-Smith provided the first crack.


Freshman Ally Johnson would single later in the inning to score Ross-Smith and Erin Andris to pull within 4-2 before Brackpool eventually tied the game in the sixth.


The Centurions scored their four on two, two-run home runs hit by freshman Lindsay Clare in the fourth and junior Alyssa Rodriguez in the fifth off Valencia pitcher Sydney Mundell.


Mundell finished the game with three strikeouts and three earned runs allowed on six hits.


Lopez tossed seven innings, allowing 10 hits and nine earned runs with seven strikeouts.


Saugus set up the dramatic final inning by scratching across two in the top of the seventh when Clare reach on an error to short right field that scored Esther Ferreira and Diana Mendoza.


But they couldn’t hold on in the bottom half.


“It was a good wake-up call — bad timing — but a good wake-up call that you have to play every single out, every single inning,” said Saugus head coach Julie Watson. “Hopefully we did learn that and can move on.”


Valencia led off the seventh with singles by Johnson and Kyra Naftel before Wendy Cardinali singled them home and reached second on the throw to the plate.


That set up Brackpool’s walk and brought Joseph to the plate with the game in the balance.
And then she delivered.

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