Turlock and Pitman High softball teams marked the end of the first round of league play with an old fashioned rivalry game Tuesday afternoon. In the first cross-town matchup of the season, the Pride welcomed the Bulldogs to Arrowhead Field where the two waged a defensive battle for much of the game.
After both teams landed on the scoreboard in their respective halves of the fifth inning, Pitman ran away with it in the sixth inning for a 5-1 victory.
“I’m happy with the way we came back at the end and fought through not hitting early on. I told the girls to stay positive and to continue making contact and eventually something will fall,” Pitman head coach Joe Lewis said. “It’s always a battle no matter what the records between Pitman and Turlock. It’s an inner town thing just like you see it in football, so I knew it was going to be tough.”
Up until the fifth inning, it was a battle of pitchers as Mariah Gonzalez held down the mound for Turlock and Alexis Mettler dispatched Bulldog batters left and right.
Mettler was the first to break when Gonzalez hit a RBI single for Turlock to cross Nikki Santos and put the Bulldogs up a run. Gonzalez notched the scoring play by mere inches as she outraced Pitman’s Spencer Bronken to first base and got the safe call.
“We came to play today,” Turlock head coach Jill Ogden said.
But Pitman responded almost immediately as Aly Hagan and Nicole Bailey each hit RBI doubles in the bottom of the fifth inning. Reagan Wolfley and Hagan were the crossing runners.
“She pitched out of a couple jams early and just did a great job of locating her pitches and keeping them off balance. We made some good plays, we just didn’t get it done,” Ogden said of Gonzalez.
But the scoring wasn’t over for the Pride. In the sixth inning, with two outs, Wolfley stepped up to the play with the bases loaded and roped a Gonzalez pitch with ease, sending the ball deep into center field. The hit was a base-clearing double which effectively took the wind out of team Turlock.
“Reagan’s hit was huge. She’s been working on some things with mechanics and she came through. That was a huge hit to earn those runs,” Lewis said.
Gonzalez finished with seven strikeouts with six allowed hits.
Mettler finished with 13 strikeouts and allowed only three hits.
“She has a lot of strike outs every game and limits the hits, we just need to get our bats going to counter her pitching,” Lewis said of Mettler.
The Bulldogs’ (1-4 CCC) next Central California Conference game will take place against Atwater at home on Thursday.
“We made less defensive errors today, for sure. We’re getting better; it’s just frustrating that we’re not getting through,” Ogden said. “We need to get those key hits at key times. The defense was better today, but we need to clean it up a little bit. But we’re happy with this performance, we don’t have too many complaints.”
The Pride (3-2 CCC) will also host a home game as they’re set to welcome undefeated Merced High on Thursday.