TULARE — Over two days of competition, Sierra Pacific defeated Sierra, Farmersville, twice, and Woodlake, in that order, to earn the 2019 Tulare Classic Softball Tournament Small Division championship on Monday.
In the championship game, the Golden Bears took down the Tigers 10-4 with timely hitting and solid pitching, as they extended their winning streak to eight games.
“It’s rewarding,” Sierra Pacific coach Victor Chavarin said. “These girls deserved it … We faced a lot of teams that we’re familiar with and we came out and did our job. Our players stepped up on hitting, pitching, overall they did a good job.”
Sierra Pacific and Woodlake both entered the championship game 3-0. The Golden Bears proved to be too much for the Tigers, who they’ve now beaten three times this season.
“I’m really proud of us and I think that we all needed this for a little boost into playoffs coming up,” Sierra Pacific right fielder Kaitlin Thayer said.
Thayer was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored in the final game. She was selected to the All-Tournament team after she batted .583 (7-for-12), drove in six runs, scored seven runs and drew four walks in four tournament games. She also had seven stolen bases and three of her seven hits were triples.
“My confidence has been getting really up, I think it’s a little too much right now,” Thayer said. “But I’ve been putting in a lot of work at practice and just to see that pay off is really nice. I love giving back to my team and if I can’t provide on the field, I like providing in the batter’s box.”
Sierra Pacific pitcher Lauren Alarcon, who started Monday’s championship game, was named the All-Tournament Most Valuable Player. She pitched five innings against Woodlake allowing four runs on 11 hits and five strikeouts with two walks.
In four tournament games, she allowed 11 runs (six earned) on 24 hits in 16 innings of work. She had a total of 11 strikeouts and five walks.
The All-Tournament team was voted on by the opposing head coaches. Coaches could not vote for their own players.
The Tigers (7-9, 4-4 ESL) actually outhit the Golden Bears (16-6, 8-0 ESL) 12-7, but they were only 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Sierra Pacific was 6-for-10 with RISP.
All of Woodlake’s scoring came in the top of the fourth inning. They started with back-to-back singles to open the inning. After two pop ups, they hit four consecutive RBI singles and trailed 5-4. The inning ended when center fielder Mikayla Hoggard hooked up with third baseman Megan Rocha for the tag on the baserunner.
“We were getting a little too ahead of ourselves knowing that we’ve already played this team twice,” Thayer said. “I just think that Lauren Simas had a really good regroup session and just getting us all back on the same page and realizing who we are and what we’re here for.”
Sierra Pacific scored mostly in bunches and did most of their damage in the second and fifth innings. With the bases loaded in the second, Alarcon drew a walk to score courtesy runner Arlene Gudino. Thayer then hit a two-run single to make it 3-0.
They added two more runs in the third inning on an RBI single by designated player McKenna Randall and a Woodlake error. Another run was scored by Hoggard in the fourth after she reached base with a one-out triple.
Leading 6-4, the Golden Bears blew the game open with a four-run fifth. After two quick outs, second baseman Isabella Solis doubled, followed by an infield single by Alarcon to put runners on the corners.
Thayer came through with another RBI single and Alarcon eventually scored on a passed ball. Thayer went home on an error as did left fielder Simas after she reached on a hit-by-pitch. The lead was now six runs.
“They all rub off each other, one starts hitting the rest of them start hitting,” Chavarin said. “For them, they’re just waiting for someone to get the momentum going. When they start hitting, they all start hitting in numbers.”
Sierra Pacific’s Ryan Hulbert pitched two scoreless innings in relief and allowed one hit. She entered the sixth inning with two on and no outs. After a fielder’s choice got the lead runner, an infield single loaded the bases.
Hulbert got a strikeout and pop up to shortstop Chloe Correia to preserve the six-run lead. She gave up a one-out walk in the seventh inning, but got back-to-back strikeouts to seal the championship.
Sierra Pacific has a road game against Granite Hills (1-14, 0-8 ESL) on April 23 at 4 p.m. Then they’ll finish out the season with a home game against Strathmore and a road game against Corcoran. The first game against Corcoran, which was called due to rain, will be made up prior to the regular scheduled season finale.
“Finishing out strong would make good momentum for us for playoffs,” Chavarin said. “I want to try to secure a couple home games. We haven’t hosted a home game in a couple years.”
TULARE — Lemoore played in the Large Division AA portion of the tournament bracket and ended up finishing in third place. They defeated Tulare Union, xxxx-xxxx, in the third-place game.
The Tigers (9-8-1, 4-3 WYL) went 3-1 at the tournament with their only loss coming to Exeter, 4-3, on Monday. On Saturday they defeated Reedley, 6-2, and Porterville, 9-0.
Exeter (14-6, 3-4 CSL) took an early 3-0 lead with a run in each of the first three innings. They scored on a hit-by-pitch, solo home run and passed ball.
“They got some hits at just the right time,” Lemoore coach Dionne Ewing said. “Defensively, we made a couple mental errors here and there, but other than that, I don’t think we did anything wrong. I just think it was a well-played game.”
Lemoore responded in the fourth inning. Kyleigh Allen led off with a bunt single and McKenzie Dutra hit a blooper to left field. Selina Perez then hit an RBI single down the left-field line to score their first run of the game.
After a pop up to the shortstop and pitcher, Madison Martinez and Jacky Esquer hit consecutive RBI singles to tie the game 3-3.
“We got some really good at-bats in that inning, hitting is contagious,” Ewing said. “They really took control and, like I told them, they stole the momentum from that team. If we play a regular, full game you never know, we come back and we win that. I was very happy they just kept it going.”
Lemoore had another scoring chance in the top of the fifth with runners at first and second with two outs, but a fly ball to right field stranded the runners. The Monarchs broke the tie in the bottom half of the inning with a two-out single to score the runner from third.
It ended up being the winning run as Lemoore went down in order in the sixth inning. The tournament game was played to six innings.
Tomi Ford pitched five innings for the Tigers allowing four runs on seven hits. She had three strikeouts and three walks. Dutra was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Lemoore had four players make the All-Tournament team in Sierra Phelps, Megan Van Allen, Kyleigh Allen and Perez.
The 2019 Tulare Classic Tournament took place on Saturday and Monday with each team playing two games on each day.
Lemoore will jump back into league play with a home game against Golden West (5-17, 2-5 WYL) on April 24 at 4:30 p.m.