Hennessee makes two clutch grabs in Lady Mustangs’ 2-0 upset win
over Oak Grove
SALINAS – Senior centerfielder Laura Hennessee proved that a player can make a major impact in a game without even stepping to the plate Wednesday as she made two clutch grabs in the sixth inning to keep Oak Grove off the scoreboard and give No. 9 Gilroy a 2-0 first-round victory.
“I usually just stand out there and nothing gets hit my way so it was exciting to get some action,” said Hennessee, who was designated hit for by sophomore Francesco Lopez in the Lady Mustang line-up. “I just basically keep everyone up during the game and worry about what I have to do and just take care of my job.”
Hennessee’s job to patrol the center grass was never more important than when Oak Grove put runners on second and third with out in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the Lady Mustangs holding on to a two-run lead, No. 8 Oak Grove was poised to strike back.
But Hennessee made sure nothing dropped – hustling in to make a snag of a shallow fly ball that had the potential to drive home at least one run and then gloving another shot to center to end the Lady Eagles’ threat.
“I didn’t think I was going to get to it. I thought I was going to have to one-hop it. Then I realized it was carrying in the wind. The second one just hung up there. It was a routine catch.”
Hennessee preserved senior ace Jennifer Olvera’s one-hit shutout and propelled the Lady Mustangs’ into Saturday’s second round of the CCS Division I Playoffs against top seed Carlmont at Hawes Park. The game is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
“That girl comes up with the best catches,” said second-year skipper Julie Beggren of Hennessee. “Her range has gotten bigger and bigger since the season has gone on. It helps that her and Jenn (Olvera) are really close.”
Olvera – who struck out seven in her complete-game outing – helped her own cause with an RBI single in the fifth frame to break the scoreless tie. After freshman leftfielder Kristen Campos belted a two-out triple, she trotted home on Olvera’s base knock that whistled past third.
“It was an outside pitch. I’ve been in a hitting slump so I just needed to get a hit,” said Campos of her triple-bag blast into centerfield. “We’ve been working together the whole season. All the seniors really wanted this game.”
Senior first baseman Jenna Daugherty jolted the next big Gilroy hit in the top of the sixth inning. Daugherty smoked the ball deep into the outfield and got all the way to third base before the ball was returned to the infield. She then scored on an errant Oak Grove throw.
“These are the girls I really wanted to see step up today. These seniors don’t want to go home,” Berggren said. “We hit the ball so hard today. We can’t ask them to hit the ball any harder.”
The Oak Grove hitters peppered sophomore shortstop Kayla Aldridge in the last two innings – sending five shots her way. After a liner went off Aldridge’s glove to open the sixth, she got in front of a sharp grounder that one-hopped off the dirt at the Salinas Sports Park and caught her on the neck.
“That really hurt,” said Aldridge, who picked herself back up to make the final three outs of the game in a courageous showing. She gloved consecutive pop-ups to open the seventh and then fielded a grounder for the final put-out.
“Totally a tough girl,” said Berggren of Aldridge. “Her teammates picked her up in that one inning and she got all the outs in the last inning. She stayed focused and shook off what happened in the sixth inning.”
The upset-minded Lady Mustangs now look ahead to Saturday when they take on a Carlmont squad that beat them twice this season – but Olvera is hoping, “the third time’s a charm.”
After a post-game chat with her team, Berggren was convinced her squad can pull off a second straight upset and then venture into the CCS Semis on Thursday, May 29 at PAL Stadium in San Jose.
“If we can keep hitting the ball hard like we did today, no one is stopping us,” Berggren said. “The key for us is going to be hitting the ball hard and playing good defense and not giving up if we give up any runs.”