HANFORD — Hanford West put runners on the bases, but bringing them home was another story on Friday. The Huskies went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and lost 6-5 to Kingsburg, while dropping to 0-2 in the Central Sequoia League.
“It’s been that way for the past seven or eight games,” Hanford West coach Russ Heffley said. “We get girls in scoring position, we have to come up with a big hit and if we don’t come up with a big hit, obviously we don’t score runs.”
The Huskies (7-6, 0-2 CSL) compiled 11 total hits with more than a third of them coming from freshman right fielder Ayden Stone. She was 4-for-4 with four singles, including a crucial bunt in the fourth inning to get the team’s offense going.
“My pitch selection, I wasn’t swinging at the rise balls, but I was swinging at the changeups,” Stone said. “Even though I was a little in front of her pitching because she was pitching really slow, I still got ahold of it with my barrel.”
Hanford West shortstop Josie Simas was 2-for-3 with a run and RBI, and designated player Maddie Shimmin was 2-for-4 at the plate. She also stepped into the circle relief and pitched 2 2/3 innings allowing three hits and no earned runs. She had one strikeout, allowed one walk and hit one batter.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Shimmin led off with a single and Stone then got the signal and put down a perfect bunt in front of home plate.
Huskies center fielder Alexis Ortiz hit a shot to center, which was dropped and allowed both Shimmin and Stone to score. Macie Figueroa’s sacrifice bunt advanced Ortiz to third base and Simas put the ball deep enough to left field for the sacrifice fly. Hanford West led 4-2 after the 3-run inning.
The lead was quickly undone with Kingsburg’s bats making solid contact in the top of the fifth. Hanford West starting pitcher Nikki Antuna allowed singles to four of the first five batters in the inning and was pulled after Kingsburg outfielder Caitlyn Vela tied the game with a RBI single.
Two more runs were added and Hanford West trailed 6-4. Antuna allowed six runs on eight hits and walked one in 4 1/3 innings of work. She retired the side in order once in the fourth inning when she only needed three pitches.
“When you take the lead you have to come back out and you have to put a zero on the board and that’s another thing, we didn’t do that,” Russ Heffley said. “It’s on us. I don’t take [anything] away from Kingsburg. They beat us fair and square and we just have to get better.”
Allison Heffley, the reigning West Yosemite League MVP, cut the deficit in half with a solo home run — her second of the year — to right field to lead off the bottom of the fifth. It was her only hit of the game.
After two outs, Shimmin and Stone hit back-to-back singles, but Ortiz popped out to the catcher to end the inning.
“I just wanted a base hit, kind of start off the inning and hope to get some more done in that inning,” Allison Heffley said. “A home run’s nice, but a single would’ve worked better if it meant that we would’ve scored more runs.”
Bianca Castellanos drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the sixth and Allison Heffley and Jayden Matheney were both hit by pitches to load the bases. This time a pop out to the first baseman in foul territory ended their scoring chances.
“We get a lot of runners in scoring position and on base, but we don’t get that hit that drives them in,” Allison Heffley said. “It costs us in the end just like this game. Some of it’s nerves because we do have a lot of young girls on the team, but it’s also a lack of concentration … and not recognizing what’s going to come.”
Still trailing by one run in the seventh, a pair of one-out singles by Stone and Ortiz gave the Huskies another chance to tie the game. Jordyn Antuna’s hit was caught by the shortstop and she quickly turned to second for the game-ending double play.
The Vikings also had 11 hits, but made contact when it counted. Their four-run fifth consisted of five hits and the team was 4-for-5 with RISP in the inning.
Hanford West has a home game against Selma (6-3, 2-0 CSL) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Bears have won three games in a row and are tied with Kingsburg for first in league at 2-0.