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Hawks softball top Coyotes in SAL matchup
DvD softball pic2
Delhis Athena Nguyen bunts the ball and gains a base hit during the game against Denair. Delhi beat Denair 8-7. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

In their second and final regular season meeting of the year, Denair and Delhi High softball gave the spectators a great game to watch on Tuesday, a game that came down to the final inning.

In the end it was Delhi which was able to squeeze a two-run inning to end the game  atop Denair, 8-7.

“We've been struggling the past few weeks, our hitting is not all there and pitching has been a bit weak as well, struggling there also, and our defense as well,” said Delhi head coach Mike Andam. “I told the girls that we need this game… we need to win if we want to still be alive for playoffs and it worked.”

Delhi snapped its four-game losing streak in league and improved to 3-5 in the Southern Athletic League.

Denair fell to 1-7 in league and have now lost five consecutive.

“We are young and every game we progress and get better, now it’s about finishing seven innings,” said Denair head coach Cindy Turner. “They are near the wins, just have to believe in themselves to finish it and win. As we head near the end, they will only be getting better.”

Turner’s team definitely looked improved, especially after finishing the game with 15 hits off freshman starter Val Mercado, who still picked up the win.

Mercado went on to pitch all seven innings and struck out as she picked up her first win since beating Le Grand 5-2 back on March 22.

“The win gives the girls confidence and the losing streak is gone as well heading into a tough game against Waterford,” said Andam. “They are second in league; they are coming to our home so I hope we can put on a good performance and battle with them.”

Denair, which had a fantastic day hitting the ball, went up early in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead.

Six of the nine batters got at least one hit for Denair.

The lead, however, didn’t last very long since Delhi took a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the third.

Delhi had a tough time hitting the ball, but took advantage of the four errors from Denair, especially late in the game.

Denair went on to outscore Delhi 6-1 heading into the seventh inning after Jessica Aguilar slammed a two-run homer over the left field wall to take a 7-6 lead by the end of the sixth.

Aguilar finished with a perfect 4 for 4 day and set up her team with a one-run lead heading into the seventh.

Delhi was able to rally in the top of the seventh after a throwing error at first base allowed Delhi to score the tying run to make it 7-7 with one out.

“Long as we battle and play 100 percent, I am happy with that,” said Andam. “In the middle we slacked, but I told the girls that we can hit and score so let’s do it and end this game. I also mentioned playoffs were on the line and motivated them as well.”

Then with two runners in scoring position, a sacrifice RBI brought in Carina Fernandez for the go-ahead run to take an 8-7 lead heading into the final three outs.

Mercado was able to retire the final three batters after throwing just six pitches in the final inning.

“Errors did hurt us and we have to get through it,” Turner added.  “They actually started to hit the ball well and went up but Delhi seemed to get up in the seventh and that one error cost us when none of the others cost us but they are getting better at base running as well, they played much better.”

Denair’s starting pitcher was Kelsey Park, who went all seven innings and allowed four earned runs and struck out five. Park was also 3 for 4 as the leadoff hitter. Sierra Smith was 3 for 4 and Kloie Lum was 2 for 4.

Delhi’s Veronica Cruz was 2 for 4.

Delhi will next host Waterford at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Denair will take on at Le Grand on the road at 4 p.m. Thursday.