FRESNO — Entering the 2019 Easter Softball Classic on an 11-game winning streak, Hanford was playing as good as any team. They turned that play into a fourth-place finish — their best ever at the tournament.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Hanford coach Donnie Fagundes said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’d like to have finished a little bit better here, but being this still is the best we’ve ever finished in the tournament that’s an accomplishment in itself.”

Hanford, a Division II school, started the tournament with wins over Division I schools Bullard (3-0) and Central (5-4) on Monday. The shutout against Bullard, a team that made the Central Section semifinals last season, was only their second of the season.

“We got some timely hits in those two games when we had runners in scoring position and today we had runners on at times and we couldn’t get the hits like we did [Monday],” Fagundes said.

After starting 2-0, Hanford (19-5, 7-0 WYL) advanced to the semifinals with a game against Clovis (17-4, 5-1 TRAC) on Tuesday.

For the first couple innings, the Bullpups went toe-to-toe with the defending Division I champions. Hanford trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth before cutting the lead in half with an RBI single by Kaitlyn Thomas. Unfortunately for the Bullpups, it was all the offense they found.

Clovis eventually took control by scoring five runs over the final two innings and winning 7-1 to advance to the championship game.

Hanford pitcher Arrysa Danell allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits over six innings. She had two strikeouts and no walks.

The lone run for the Bullpups came in the fourth inning. Designated player Jenna Leavens hit a two-out double down the left-field line and third baseman Thomas had a base hit up the middle.

Hanford had only one other hit in the game. It came in the second inning on a single by second baseman Lillianna Garcia.

The Bullpups were 1-for-5 with RISP, had 14 strikeouts and made four errors, which cost them three runs. They loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning, but struck out.

Garcia pitched the seventh inning in relief and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits. The Cougars opened up the inning with two singles and a double.

After the loss, Hanford moved on to play Clovis North for third place. They lost that game 4-1 and ended in fourth.

“We can compete and I know we can play with them,” Fagundes said. “If we had had [Monday’s] effort today, I think at least one of these games might’ve been different. As far as competing with them, we can compete with this group of girls. We can compete at the D-I level.”

Up next:

Hanford has three final West Yosemite League games before beginning the playoffs. They’ll start with a road game against Redwood on April 24 at 4:30 p.m. A win will give them an outright league title.

“I told the girls to go home and put all their softball stuff in the back of the closet and forget about softball for four days,” Fagundes said. “We’re going to get back to work on Monday and Tuesday and try to win league on Wednesday. That’s the plan.”

Hanford West

FRESNO — The Huskies also took part in the Easter Softball Classic and finished in seventh place.

Hanford West defeated Clovis West 2-1 in their opening game before losing 7-0 to Clovis on Monday. They then lost to Central 9-0 before rebounding and defeating Liberty 7-5 to close out the tournament.

Hanford West (17-8, 7-2 CSL) won seven Central Sequoia League games in a row and are currently in first place by half a game. They have a home game against Central Valley Christian (8-8, 1-6 CSL) on April 24 at 4 p.m.

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Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Sentinel

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