Fans in the stands could not have asked for a better softball game on Monday afternoon between rivals Santa Clara and Wilcox. While both starting pitchers—Kathryn Caravalho for the Bruins and Alyssa Guerrero for the Chargers—were terrific, there were multiple rallies for each side. Through six innings, though, the only side to scratch across any runs were the Santa Clara Bruins.
Santa Clara got things kick-started in the fourth with two outs and nobody on. Junior first baseman Victoria Latz knocked a double to right-center field. A pass ball moved her over to third. After a walk to senior second baseman Vanessa Bontrager, the Bruins had first and third with left fielder Hailey Tran at the plate. The sophomore would drive a single up the middle for the RBI.
“I just knew I needed to get on base in that situation,” said Tran. “We really needed to score there, I needed that hit. It was an outside pitch, I knew she was throwing me outside, thankfully I got it up the middle.”
After a one-two-three top of the fifth, the Bruins extended their lead in the bottom. Leading off the inning, number eight hitter Sierra Trujeque showed bunt before pulling her bat back and crushing a double over the left fielder’s head.
“It’s actually like a timing mechanism that [Assistant] Coach Manny [Resendez] showed me when we played against Mitty,” admitted Trujeque on showing bunt and then pulling the bat back. “I was swinging too early which was making me hit grounders. When I show bunt and pull back it helps me get the sweet spot of the bat on the ball.”
Trujeque would come around to score three batters later when Navaeh Tayama singled off the pitcher.
The Bruins would maintain a 2-0 lead into their final at bats in the bottom of the sixth. Bontrager would then leadoff the sixth with her third free pass of the game. She would eventually come around to score on a sacrifice fly by Trujeque.
With the way Carvalho was pitching, it seemed like the game was well in hand for the Bruins going into the top of the seventh.
“She’s amazing, she’s absolutely amazing,” said Tayama with a wide grin when asked about Caravalho. “There are no other words for her.”
The Chargers however weren’t going to go away quietly. Wilcox showed they had some charge left in them. Down to their final out, junior Carina Parra got on base by taking a hit by pitch. Sophomore Ameryss Meza followed that up by working a walk. That set the table for leadoff hitter Deena Pederson. In her previous three at bats Pederson had barely made any contact against Caravalho. This time around, though, the speedy shortstop smoked a line drive down the opposite-field line, into the right-field corner for a two-RBI triple.
“I did use a different bat,” chuckled Pederson on her final plate appearance. “But I also had a different mindset. I knew there were two outs, I knew I had to do something, so I came out aggressive. The first strike I saw, I just took it to right field.”
After another hit batsmen, third baseman Serena Cadena came up with runners on the corners, looking to repeat her first inning performance when she smoked a single into right-center. Unfortunately for Chargers fans, her drive to center would be caught for the final out.
“The challenge facing [Caravalho] is that she’s a lot faster than the other pitchers we’ve faced,” remarked Cadena. “We usually face slower pitchers, but we just have to make quicker adjustments next time.”
The victory was a big one for the Bruins as they improve to 2-2 in league and prevent the rival Chargers from improving to 4-1, knocking them down to 3-2.
Santa Clara will next play again on Wednesday, April 4 against Los Gatos before a tournament game against St. Francis on April 7. Wilcox meanwhile will play against Woodside on April 4 and will also play Los Gatos on April 5.