KINGSBURG - With runners on second and first, Kingsburg was on the verge of rallying back from a 5-0 deficit, but the Vikings weren’t able to complete the comeback against Hanford West in Central Sequoia League action on April 9.
After threatening to tie the game, Kingsburg fell to the Huskies 5-4 at home. Both teams were tied for first place in the CSL standings at 6-2 after the game. The season series between the teams ends in a 1-1 split.
“They don’t ever give up on anything,” Vikings head coach Randy Sieger said. “It was a great job fighting back tonight. We just came up a little bit short.”
In the seventh inning, Brianna Vela represented the tying run on second while Madison Alves was the go-ahead scorer on first. Brianna’s twin sister Caitlyn Vela would be the final Vikings batter to be retired after hitting an infield popup.
Kingsburg scored two runs each in sixth and seventh innings.
“We’re always going to fight back, we just have to do it a little earlier because we did it in the last two innings,” Vikings catcher Marissa Gonzalez said. “If we would’ve attacked earlier then it could’ve been a different outcome.”
Heading into the game, Kingsburg was on a six-game winning streak while Hanford West won five in a row.
The game was scoreless until Hanford West second baseman Jayden Matheney hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. Hanford West shortstop Josie Simas made it a two-run game with an RBI double later in the inning.
Matheney proved to be a tough out for the Vikings again in the fifth inning. After back-to-back singles from Allison Heffley and Graceyn Coleman, Matheney hit a three-run home run to extend the Huskies’ lead to 5-0.
“She’s a really good hitter and obviously we threw a pitch that she liked,” Sieger said about Matheney. “She got all over it. Sometimes a kid has a night and tonight she had a night. That’s really the difference in the game right there.”
Kingsburg cut Hanford West’s lead to a 5-2 score after Alves hit a one-out two-run single in the sixth inning. Carla Duarte and Marissa Montelongo scored on the single, which bounced over the second base bag. Duarte and Montelongo reached base on back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Brianna Vela hit a single prior to Alves’ at-bat. Brianna Vela advanced to third after Alves’ two-run double.
Caitlyn Vela proceeded Alves with a single, but Brianna Vela was stranded on third on the play. The Vikings left the bases loaded after Mia Estrada and Shelby Reed were retired to end the inning.
“I feel like we got to get better in the early innings,” Sieger said. “It’s where we need to improve. We waited too long to get going. If we have opportunities to get runs in, we have to get them in early and I think that’s what hurt us in this one.”
Kingsburg continued its rally in the seventh inning with an RBI single from Montelongo and Marissa Gonzalez scoring on an error. Montelongo tried to stretch her single as double, but was tagged out as she slid to second. The Vikings started the inning with Blaire Willson reaching first on a lead-off walk. After, Duarte got retired by hitting a ground ball to opposing pitcher Maddie Shimmin.
With two outs, Gonzalez and Brianna Vela reached on back-to-back singles. Gonzalez advanced to third on Brianna’s Vela single. Alves reached base on an error, which was the same play that scored Gonzalez.
“I’m proud of them because we could’ve just played dead in the last inning,” Duarte said. “It doesn’t take just talent to do that.”
Early in the game, both teams had opportunities to score. In the first inning, Kingsburg left runners on second and third. Duarte and Gonzalez both reached base through singles and they got in scoring position with a double steal to third and second. Duarte and Gonzalez were left on base after Brianna Vela and Alves were retired on ground balls.
In the third inning, Hanford West left the bases loaded with two outs, but Vikings pitcher Kayla Medrano got out the situation with a ground ball from Huskies’ outfielder Alexis Ortiz.
Kingsburg (15-3-1, 6-2 CSL) is a half game behind of Hanford West (14-6, 7-2 CSL) after the Huskies defeated Selma 13-11 at Duran Diamond on Thursday. The Vikings had a bye in league play on Thursday. Currently, Kingsburg is tied for second place in the standings with Dinuba (17-3, 6-2 CSL).
The Vikings have four CSL games remaining, which will be against the Emperors, Central Valley Christian, Exeter, and Selma.
Kingsburg last played at the Easter Softball Classic at Buchanan High School on Monday and Tuesday.
The Vikings will continue league play in a road game against Dinuba in pivotal CSL matchup on April 23. In the first meeting, Kingsburg fell to Dinuba 10-2 at home on March 21.