With Tuesday’s softball game in extra innings, Bear River’s Rachel Last dug into the batter’s box with two outs, a runner on third and the Pioneer Valley League title on the line.
Center’s pitcher, Haileigh Arthur, had dominated Bear River all game allowing just two Lady Bruin hits up to that point, while striking out 16.
Arthur started Last off with a couple of outside pitches then tried to sneak one inside. Last wasn’t fooled. The junior tattooed the offering, and as the ball soared into the gray sky, the Beat River players and fans began to erupt. The ball soared deep into left center field and over the fence for the walk-off, 2-0 win, clinching the PVL title for Bear River.
The Lady Bruin faithful roared from the stands, as the Bear River players gathered at home plate to celebrate the game-winning blast.
“She had been throwing outside all day and she came inside and I just turned on it,” Last said. “It just hit that spot and it felt amazing. It’s the best feeling ever, I almost started crying.”
The hit was only the third Lady Bruin hit of the day and the second to leave the infield. It was the third home run of the season for Last, who is the lone varsity holdover from last season’s section championship team.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” first year head coach Jason Bohrer said. “I’m just so proud of the girls and so happy for them. They are so young and sometimes that’s a benefit. Sometimes they don’t realize the situation they are in so they can go out and play loose and we have.”
Capping the league season with a championship banner is nothing short of spectacular for Bear River after graduating nine seniors from the 2012 team, losing long-time head coach Duane Zuaner and starting the 2013 campaign 3-8.
“From our first game until now – it seems impossible almost,” Last said.
“We’ve done so much, worked really hard and we’ve just clicked and it’s gone really good for us.”
Getting Last her chance to be the hero was a team effort as several Lady Bruins contributed defensively just to get the game to the extra frames.
Freshman phenom Nerissa Long pitched another gem for Bear River, making her 9-1 against PVL opponents with a season ERA of 1.32.
In Tuesday’s matchup, Long went eight innings, struck out 13, walked three and allowed no runs. Long pitched herself out of trouble in the third, fourth and sixth innings when Center put runners in scoring position.
Long was aided by some stellar defense along the way.
With a runner on second and third in the top of the sixth, Bear River catcher Mikayla Laymance made an impressive catch on an errant pitch which prevented the runners from advancing.
In the top of the eighth, it was Alex Ecke’s turn to shine with an athletic catch in the gap to prevent an extra base hit.
Contributing offensively for Bear River, in addition to Last’s two-run bomb, were Long with a bunt single, and Bailey Lewis with a hot shot single past Center’s first basemen.
This was the second straight game for Bear River (12-9, 9-1 PVL) that went to extra innings – a situation the Lady Bruins are not afraid of, said Long.
“Having all that pressure is actually a lot of fun,” she said.
“My team always has my back and were always having fun.”
With the PVL title banner already secured, the Lady Bruins will now await their draw for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Brackets will be released May 13.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.