Things were heating up between the Turlock and Pitman High varsity softball teams when they met on the diamond for a grand Central California Conference and crosstown showdown.
Already off to their best start in school history, Pitman (8-3, 2-1) was looking to win the road game and what began as a pitching duel in the early innings, quickly crumbled for Turlock (4-5-1, 1-2) after the fifth inning with a series of errors and the Pride of Pitman picked up their second league win of the year, 12-2.
“It’s always fun to play Pitman, for sure,” said Turlock head coach Jill Ogden. “But we didn't play good softball today. We didn't execute on offense and swung at too many pitches out of the strike zone and had so many errors. So to have it 2-1 at one point was pretty good.”
“It’s the inner city rivalry thing, it doesn't matter what sport it is, the games are always tight one way or another. We just finally started hitting at the end and scored a lot of runs,” Pitman head coach Joe Lewis said.
The Pride of Pitman have been on fire despite a set back against top CCC contender Merced recently. They have won six straight games, and now have won seven of their last eight.
Pitman tacked on the first two runs of the game in the third inning against Turlock junior Mariah Gonzalez, but she managed to keep the Pride offense scoreless, for two innings, before the blitz began.
“We just had that bad inning where we didn't make good decisions,” said Ogden. “We also had some errors and the game just opened up on us but we battled back to where it was a one run game so we were proud of that.”
The next 12 outs seemed to go by quicker than most at-bats with Gonzalez and Pitman starter Alexis Mettler striking out a large portion of the side.
Mettler finished the game with 13 strikeouts in seven innings alone and allowed only one earned run.
Turlock finally got on the scoreboard after Gonzalez laid down an RBI sacrifice bunt with two runners on to cut the lead to 1-2 by the end of the fifth, but then Mettler's arm took over and Turlock began to commit the errors and miscues that led to the extended lead that put the game out of reach.
Of the four errors committed by Turlock, two came in the sixth as the Pride began a six-run inning with a Spencer Bronken RBI double and concluded with a Morgan Aguniga RBI single to score Mettler that made it 8-1.
“I told the girls that they had to make adjustments because we were so ahead of the ball that we were out front so we did a good job of moving in the box,” Lewis said. “They had to wait for the ball to get deeper and then finally we hit the ball real well from the fifth inning on.”
Gonzalez drove in the second and final run for the Bulldogs after getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
This was it for the Bulldogs, who again were in a tight contest with a top CCC squad.
“Same thing with Atwater last week. We had two tough games and battled against Buhach and won in the seventh so we’re not unhappy with the effort, we just need to play better ball,” Ogden said. “But they are great kids there is no issue there and they are going to get better.”
By the final inning, the Pride had amassed 13 hits as a team with five of the hits coming from freshman starters Morgan Aguniga (2), Lehua DeLeon (2) and Holland Henson (1).
Senior Mettler finished the game with two RBI and Bronken went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two doubles. Catcher Nicole Bailey was 2-for-3 with two RBI.
“All three of the freshman — we knew their potential that's why we pulled them up,” Lewis said. “From defense to offense they could contribute immediately and they are great players and look forward to having them for four years.”
Turlock will host Golden Valley at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Pitman's next game will be at Atwater High against the Falcons at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
“We have Atwater on Friday and we need to keep going one by one until we get to Merced again to even out with them,” Lewis added.