The Santa Clara Bruins softball squad showed significant resiliency in Thursday’s league opener against a tough Homestead Mustangs team. Last season’s De Anza league winners (20-7, 10-2) would squeak out the 7-5 victory, but Santa Clara gave the Mustangs all they could handle. Despite having just been moved up into the De Anza division, the Bruins battled back from a pair of two-run deficits, tying the game up at 2-2 and 4-4, before falling behind for good in the top of the sixth.
“Four of the five runs we scored were with two outs,” commented Bruins Head Coach John Rahbar. “That’s how resilient we are. We never die, we never give up. We pointed that out [to our girls] postgame.”
Even when runs started crossing the plate for Homestead, the Bruins didn’t appear rattled. Santa Clara starting pitcher Kathryn Caravalho pitched all seven innings. Despite giving up seven runs, she seemed very much at ease on the rubber, limiting the damage whenever the Mustangs got on the board.
“If something happens in the game situation, they do a really good job of huddling up and talking about the situation,” confirmed coach Rahbar. “It’s like a timeout in basketball, calm the game down, refocus and execute the next play. You can’t dwell [on previous play], got to have a level head.”
Offensive standouts for the Bruins were the left side of their infield in seniors Hailey Hiett and Natasha Sachdeva. Hiett went 2-4 with a double and a triple as the leadoff hitter and stole a base in the first inning after reaching on a dropped third strike. Sachdeva also went 2-4 from her cleanup spot. One of her outs was actually the loudest contact all game for either side, but the line-drive shot was hit right at the Homestead center fielder.
“I thought we played really good, I think we hit the ball really well,” commented the shortstop Hiett. “Natasha [in particular] always hits the ball well, last game she got her 100th hit, just sucks that that ball today went straight to the center fielder.”
Defensively, Hiett made a nice leaping grab in the second inning and center fielder Anjelina Manuel made a fantastic diving grab in the third inning. In the fifth inning Manuel would make another diving attempt, but wouldn’t be able to come up with the catch. Two runs would score on the play to make the score 4-2, but coach Rahbar loved the effort from his senior outfielder.
“You can’t knock a kid for being aggressive. She proved herself the first time, the second time was a bang-bang play. You can’t take that will away from her. You just applaud it and say get the next one. I even told Hailey, first game of the year against Palo Alto, I’m never going to knock you down for being aggressive. She got thrown out at third base for being aggressive, but I told her you keep doing that all year long.”
The loss drops the Bruins to 4-3 overall on the season. They continue their league play with games against Monta Vista and Los Gatos on March 23.