East County Sports

Eight-player Knights short in defeat

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP SOFTBALL

ORANGE GLEN 9, FOOTHILLS CHRISTIAN 7

ECS staff report

SANTEE —- In a struggle for a CIF playoff, meeting one of your chief competitors is tough enough. Doing so with only eight players proved too much.

Limited to an eight-player roster coming upon the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Foothills Christian was assigned an automatic out every ninth batter, which limited the offense just enough in falling to Orange Glen, 9-7, in Thursday’s (May 27) Summit League action at the Santee ASA fields at Town Center Community Park.

The pitching was even, the Knights’ defense held the advantage despite electing to play without a second baseman, but the automatic out crept up at all the wrong times.

First, the pitching, as Foothills Christian’s Oceanea Berndes yielded just one earned run. The left-hander struck out four Patriots batters.

Both teams struggled on defense, yet the Knights came up with the bigger plays. Two solid examples came in the seventh inning.

With a pair of Orange Glen runners in scoring position with no one out, Knights first baseman Natalie Barlingranged down the right-field line for a flare that was about to fall behind her. However, she corraled the blooped, then kept the runner at third base from tagging up and scoring.

Moments later,  the Orange Glen cleanup hitter sent a liner up the middle to the side of Berndes ‘s head. However, she calmly gloved the line shot, then tossed behind the runner at third base for the double play, as third baseman Sierra Leonard collected the ball and tagged the bag.

Needing four tuns to force extra innings, Foothills Christian received a “leadoff” single from Jillian Cabral, then Hannah Mroz capped a 2-for-3, three-RBI performance with a two-run homer to left-center field.

However, the single actually came with one out as the No. 9  batter technically was the first batter. Thus, despite an ensuing single by Leonard to bring the potential game-tying run to the plate, Orange Glen escaped the jam with a game-ending strikeout.

The victory allowed Orange Glen (7-7 overall, 5-5 league) to finish above Foothills Christian (4-8, 3-7 league) in the Summit standings, making it one step tougher for the Knights to reach postseason play in Division IV

For the Knights, Cabral, Mroz, and Carly Robbins, each collected two hits. Robbins, an All-East County selection in 2019, had a double and a pair of stolen bases among her totals.

At present, one media computer poll lists Foothills Christian at No. 11, thus, advancing to the 12-team field as a play-in participant, along with No. 10 Mount Miguel. Currently, one spot out at No. 13 is Monte Vista, which fell to Las Matadoras last Friday, 19-16.

The top-ranted ballclub is Bayfront Charter (21-3) of Chula Vista, coached by 2011 East County player of the year Mary Grabowski of Christian High.

In other Summit play, Maranatha Christian out-slugged the Frogs Guajome Park, 16-9.

Note: Some people were wondering where those “extra” girls were from watching Granite Hills slugger Sofia Mujica reach the Grossmont Conference home run record recently. It was members of Foothills Christian, including Leonard, a transfer from Granite Hills.

The Knights were especially interested since the current East County record of 15 was first set by former FCHS standout Carlee Wallace although not recognized due to Division reclassification, who set the record in 2011, then set the (since broken) Grossmont Conference mark of 13 while at Valhalla in 2014.

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