Wilcox softball earned their first win over the season on Tuesday afternoon, taking a 15-5 decision over the Fremont Firebirds in a game that was much closer than the final score might indicate.
The Chargers got out to a 5-0 advantage, thanks in part to a leadoff double in the second inning by senior first baseman Amanda McDowell. The two-bag knock was a shot off the wall in left field that missed being a home run by about a foot.
“As soon as I hit it I thought it was gonna be close,” said McDowell on the double. “Was able to get in safely to second, but was disappointed it was short by just a foot.”
McDowell would come around to score later in the inning, as the Chargers extended their 1-0 first-inning lead with a four-spot in the second.
A four-year varsity player, McDowell had to choose this season between playing softball and basketball, and Head Coach Vanessa Chagoya admitted after the game how grateful she is that her star senior chose to play softball.
“She could have chosen basketball and I would have had a very hard conversation with her,” joked Chagoya with a wry smile behind her mask. “She’s been great, we are thankful she came out. She’s going to play volleyball in college and most players would have chosen not to come out and risk injury. Her dedication to the team is amazing, she brings a lot of energy, keeps things light and low-key for the girls.”
Also starring in the game for Wilcox was leadoff hitter and center fielder Jessica Gutierrez. The sophomore led off the first inning with a double herself and scored the first run of the game on an RBI groundout by Athena Gonzales. Gutierrez also provided the defensive highlight of the day with a diving catch on a line drive right in front of her, one of the toughest balls to read for any outfielder.
While the Chargers would continue to tack on in this game, as Kennedi Kuykendall and Reyna Hernandez also provided RBI knocks, things got a little murky in the top of the sixth inning. Fremont loaded the bases by drawing three straight walks. Emma Caires, Kylie Johnson and Marian Langtry set the table for freshman Katie Grant who smoked an opposite-field, bases-clearing double. The clutch knock pulled the Firebirds back in the game at 8-5.
“I saw the pitch coming out of her hand and the spin, I could tell it was going towards the outside and I love an outside ball, so I took it and drove it down the right-field line,” said the freshman. “That’s what we work on in practice, so I decided to take what we do in practice and put it out on the field.”
“I always describe it as ‘she hits angry,’” joked Fremont Head Coach Tony Phillips on his first-year corner infielder. “She’s a tough out. I admire her a lot.”
Unfortunately for Fremont fans, the bottom of the sixth would get away from the Firebirds with a barrage of walks. Wilcox would end up tacking on seven more runs for a 10-run rule victory in six innings.