After a pair of postponements, softball fans were finally treated to the crosstown showdown between Gilroy High and Christopher. Naturally, the wait, was well worth it.
Casey Lester’s second inning three-run blast off of Aly Olvera stood as the difference as the Mustangs toppled the Cougars 5-2 on a spectacular Saturday afternoon in Gilroy.
The Mustangs led 5-0 after five innings, tacking onto their lead with one run in both the third of fourth frames. The Cougars got one back in the sixth and one in the seventh to fall three-runs shy of victory. In the teams’ first-ever meeting last season, GHS ended matters in five innings with a 12-0 triumph.
“I’d rather play a closer game,” GHS manager Julie Berggren said. “This felt like what it should be like.”
And probably a preview of encounters in years to come, especially with both likely to become league foes in 2013, as the newly formed two-division Monterey Bay League takes effect.
“This is competitive softball at its best,” CHS manager Allison Robinson said. “It’s great for the town to see this. We have a bunch of great softball players here.”
Christopher freshman Mackenzie Holt set the tone for the weekend matinee with a leadoff double off of GHS sophomore Holly Lam. Holt, however, moved no further. Olvera, who had seven strikeouts in the game, also avoided first-inning damage, getting out of a two-on, two-out jam with a fly out to left.
The Cougars, in turn, used a walk and an error to produce two base runners in the top of the second. Lam, though, struck out the next two hitters to wriggle out of harms way. Lam finished with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Lam drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third. After a failed sacrifice bunt attempt for the first out, Shawnte Garcia put her bunt down. Olvera went for the force at second to cut off the lead runner, but her throw sailed into center field. Olvera was one out from escaping the predicament when Lester turned on a pitch high in the zone to deliver her three-run home run to right center.
Back-to-back singles by Kaylana Mah and Amber Gamboa, who reached base three times, and an error equaled Gilroy’s run in the third. Lauren Castro singled in Lester in the fourth to lift GHS to its 5-0 advantage.
Kayla Medrano’s sacrifice fly chased in Olvera for the Cougars’ first run. In the seventh, Holt smacked her second double of the day to the fence in center, which plated Arianna Vasquez, who singled.
“I loved the way they carried themselves out there,” Robinson said. “They didn’t give up. Up until the seventh inning they were fired up and wanted to make something happen.”
Supporters filled the bleachers on both foul lines, basking in the sunlight while former Little League and travel ball teammates went at it in a spirited nonleague encounter.
“We had great weather – so many fans out here today – which made it really cool,” Berggren added.
Better, too, the victory put the Mustangs at .500 (11-11 overall, 5-5 league) with a pair of Tri-County Athletic League contests this week.
“We needed that one,” Berggren said. “We have a tough week ahead of us. We have to finish at .500 and this put us there. It also gives us some momentum heading into two very important league games.”
GHS, which must finish at .500 in league to be eligible for a postseason berth, hosts North Salinas (15-7 overall, 7-3 TCAL) on Tuesday then hits the road for a regular season finale at Salinas High (11-5 overall, 8-3 TCAL.)
The Cougars (17-7 overall, 10-1 Monterey Bay League) can clinch a share of the league championship with a win over Watsonville at home Tuesday.