It was a matchup between top-tier and lower-tier Southern Athletic League teams Friday afternoon when 7th place Turlock Christian High hosted 2nd place Delhi High in a game that was originally scheduled to be played on Wednesday.
Despite the disparity between the league records of the Hawks (4-1 SAL) and Eagles (1-5 SAL), Friday’s game proved to be a competitive one as TC forced Delhi to mount a late inning comeback to earn the 7-2 win.
“We finally started to get patient back in the fifth and sixth innings and let the ball travel to come to the plate. We don’t know how to wait for a ball; our hands are too fast,” Delhi head coach Tami Tella said. “We got lucky down in the fifth or sixth, otherwise we lose this ballgame.”
As it has been for the past two seasons, Delhi’s strength lied in its pitcher Alyssa Stockton who threw 12 strike outs through seven innings while allowing only four hits. Still, TC fared well against Stockton early in the game as it scored the game’s first run in the first inning via Cassie Balswick before an Abbie Morelli RBI double in the bottom of the third inning to cross Aimee Jones, putting the Eagles up by two runs.
“I’m really proud of the girls to play against a team like this and a pitcher like this; she’s probably one of the top pitchers in the area,” TC head coach Randy Hopkins said. “We got some key hits, we didn’t hit her real well, but we got some key hits that scored some runs for us early on in the game. So I’m proud of them to challenge her and to challenge their pitching.”
Delhi answered back with its first run of the day in the top of the fourth inning when a Bianca Nunez bomb into center field bounced off the glove of a TC outfielder and allowed Briana Lopez to cross home plate.
Stockton, who was battling the stomach flu and even left the field to throw up between innings, followed up her team’s score with three straight strike outs in the bottom of the fourth inning which set her up to score a run via a Diamond Orozco RBI single in the top of the fifth.
“I feel like I’m getting the stomach flu, I’m throwing up a lot, but on the mound I was just focusing on what I need to do, what pitch I need to go to next and my snaps,” Stockton said.
“She’s been sick all week, but she’s a gamer,” Tella said of her junior pitcher.
With the score tied 2-2, the Hawks broke the game open in the top of the seventh inning with a five-run effort.
Nunez earned another RBI as she hit a single to cross Rocio Aguilar for the go ahead run. Macy Fronczak followed with two RBI on a single before Roxana Pimentel and Cynthia Aguilera provided the final two runs with singles.
“I feel like everyone was not in it today. But once we got talked to by the coaches we got our heads back in the game, stepped it up, and played how we usually play,” Stockton said.
The win created a tie for first place in the SAL between Delhi and Le Grand. As for TC, Friday marked the third consecutive game in which the girls played at a higher competitive level than usual.
“We go into next week playing Gustine and I think we’re going to go into that on a high. I expect them to win that ballgame,” Hopkins said.
The Hawks will face a trio of tough opponents next week as Gustine, Le Grand, and Mariposa County High are all on the schedule.
“They’re going to try and throw us off. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of off speed pitches,” Tella said of her team’s upcoming opponents.