In the top of the sixth inning with two Heritage runners on base, Katee Wiley slugged the ball to left field in what appeared to be a game-tying home run. But Brianna Simpson sprinted, leapt and, after a slight bobble, caught the ball before it could hit the wall. Madison Williams, the Falcons’ star of the game, struck out the next batter and pitched a perfect seventh inning to secure the win. Williams allowed only three hits and two walks while striking out eight Patriot hitters.
Meanwhile Freedom managed to get only four hits off Heritage pitcher Lisa Rodrigues, but was able to parlay them into runs. The Falcons got on the board in the bottom of the third inning on a double from Priscilla Olmos that scored Kim Westlund. Two innings later, Katie Wood hit a double that drove in Malena Padilla. Wood scored on a bunt single by Ariana Hawkins that caught the Patriot defense off guard.
Comparing this win to the previous loss, Falcons Manager Jeff Jonas said, “One thing: our short game was much better in this game. We didn’t execute at all last time. In this game we got the bunts down and forced the defense to make some plays and we had some timely hitting. Timely hitting is pretty key in baseball, softball, whatever. Also, pitching wise, we stayed up in the count most of the time. When you get up in the count, it allows you to spin the ball the way that you want to spin it.”
The key to continued success? “We have got to keep scoring runs,” he said. “In the games that are like today, we just need to score like we scored today by creating opportunities. And when we’re playing opponents that aren’t as good at pitching, we have to pound it. Then from the defensive end, we’re pretty solid. Pitching wise, we just need performances like this, when we’re not giving them free stuff, and we should be competitive.”
Despite the loss, Heritage Manager Ron Rivers remained optimistic: “I think we’re fine. We blinked first and made some errors; last game, they made errors. If you look at the tally, they scored three runs against us; we scored three runs against them. This game here between us, them, Antioch, and just our whole league, is just about staying consistent, and who blinks first.
“The positive I take out of this game is that it’s 1-1, and they have to come to our house next time. Softball is a game where you have to learn and get better as you learn it. I tell the girls that you really need to know how to focus when you’re on the road and when things go wrong, you call time and rally around each other, refocus and get the job done.
The win moved 6-1 Freedom to first place in the BVAL. This week the Falcons play Pittsburg on Tuesday, April 27 and on Thursday, April 29 at Deer Valley. Their next home game is Tuesday, May 4 against Antioch. The loss knocked Heritage to 5-2 in BVAL play. The Patriots host Deer Valley on Tuesday and travel to Antioch on Thursday. They play at home against Liberty on Tuesday, May 4.