Lions squeak by young Miner team
The McClatchy softball team came to Grass Valley on Thursday afternoon with a score to settle against Nevada Union from last season. Unfortunately for the Lions, the Miners’ lineup for the contest only held four returning players.
So, the 2-0 McClatchy win wasn’t as much of a revenge victory, but an important Metro League game, nonetheless.
Last season, the Miners beat the Lions twice to go on and win the Metro League championship outright, losing just once that season.
But this season is substantially different, with the Miners bragging of a fairly young and inexperienced squad.
Add to the equation the fact that Nevada Union was missing senior Rachelle Chan – last year’s league MVP and the team’s No. 1 pitcher – along with another returner in Corrinne Mead for the game because of illness. Not to mention McClatchy entered the game undefeated in league play, thus leaving Nevada Union with quite an uphill fight.
Yet once again, in keeping with tradition, the two teams played another tight contest.
Sophomore pitcher Kayla Bennett pitched for the Miners against junior Jenna Fong doing so for the Lions (8-0 Metro, 13-4-1 overall).
Neither starter gave up a hit for the first two innings, with Fong striking out five of the first six batters she faced.
Trouble came for the Miners, however, in the top of the third inning. McClatchy’s Erika Salinas led off with a single through the right side of the infield and moved to second on a fielder’s choice. Fong then drew a walk with Breanna Ruiz singling to shallow left field to load the bases.
Alex Rafael popped up to centerfield, leaving the bases loaded with two outs. Cleanup hitter Chelsea Dunnington did just that, knocking a single into shallow right field to score the game’s only two runs.
Meanwhile, the Miners continued to struggle against Fong, getting a base runner to second for the first time in the bottom of the sixth inning. A leadoff single from Roxanne Ray and then a double from Bennett put the Miners in scoring position with runners on second and third with no outs.
But the next two batters struck out with the third popping up to Fong.
“Oh, man – Fong has an inside/outside pitch that’s unbelievable,” Nevada Union senior captain Kayla Olson said. “It goes right to the corner and is hard to hit.”
Long finished with 14 strikeouts, giving up just five hits. Despite taking the loss, Bennett only gave up seven hits while getting herself out of a handful of dangerous jams.
Senior Kristin Durham was a bright spot for the Miners offensively, going 2-for-2 with a walk. In addition to Ray and Bennett, catcher Tawny Gordon notched a hit as well.
“This is only the fifth time we have been on our own field this season with a young and inexperienced group,” Nevada Union coach Darren Chan said. “And in the brief stint lately (being able to play again), we’ve improved.
“We battled against a really good McClatchy team and we can take lots of positives from the game.”
The Miners (3-5, 3-9) host Kennedy at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.
McClatchy 2, Nevada Union 0
McClatchy AB R H RI Nevada Union AB R H RI
Fong, p 3 1 1 0 Ray, 3b 3 0 1 0
Ruiz, 2b 4 0 2 0 Bennett, p 3 0 1 0
Rafael, c 4 0 0 0 Reuter, lf 2 0 0 0
Dunnngtn ss 3 0 1 2 Hepptng ph 1 0 0 0
Robinson, lf 3 0 1 0 Olson, cf 3 0 0 0
Wagner, 1b 3 0 0 0 Davidson rf 2 0 0 0
Lewis, cf 3 0 1 0 Gordon, c 3 0 1 0
Salinas, 3b 3 1 1 0 Davis, ss 3 0 0 0
Meyer, rf 0 1 0 0 Durham, 1b 2 0 2 0
Kirk, ph 2 2 0 0 Dennstn 2b 3 0 0 0
Totals 29 2 7 2 24 0 5 0
McClatchy 002 000 0 – 2
Nevada Union 000 000 0 – 0
LOB – McC 6, NU 6.
IP H R W K
Fong 7 5 0 2 14
Bennett 7 7 2 1 3
To contact sportswriter Stacy Hicklin, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4244.
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