Redwood softball blanks Dinuba for first victory

Redwood High Ceydie Pires delivers a pitch to the plate in the second inning of the Rangers’ abbreviated 10-0 victory over Dinuba High on March 12 in Visalia. The sophomore allowed just one hit and struck out four in four innings of work.(Jon Earnest)

Defending East Yosemite League champion Rangers collect 13 hits against Emperors squad playing without its top pitcher

VISALIA – Two softball teams in a state of transition crossed paths in a non-league contest Tuesday afternoon, and the host Redwood High Rangers unleashed the offense to collect their first victory of the season.

Belting out 13 hits against two Dinuba High pitchers, Redwood (1-4-2) scored in four of five innings to defeat the Emperors by a 10-0 score at RHS field. Dinuba (1-6) continued without its top pitcher, senior Leah Moreno, who is nursing a shoulder injury.

Rangers coach Stevi Johnson was pleased with her defending East Yosemite League champion squad’s performance heading into the team’s annual Redwood Tournament on Thursday through Saturday, opening against Frontier of Bakersfield on March 14.

“We knew we wanted to start this homestand off with a bang,” she said. “Ceydie (Pires) is one of our sophomore pitchers, and she gave a really strong four innings for us and did a great job shutting them down.”

Offensively, Redwood broke free with its biggest run production of the season. Sophomore catcher Jaden Lopez went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles while sophomore Kenzie Cantu and senior Shelby Somavia each had two hits and two runs batted in.

“We had really strong at bats throughout the lineup,” Johnson said. “But Jaden is definitely our standout player offensively. She did a great job at the plate.”

Dinuba High’s Cambria Alderete concentrates as she prepares to snag a popup during the Emperors’ 10-0 loss to Redwood High in a non-league game in Visalia on March 12. Tye sophomore collected one of three hits and pitched the final inning-plus. (Jon Earnest)

Dinuba coach Bryan Patterson said his team is trying to get untracked in the wake of Moreno’s absence.

“We played really well against Clovis West last week and fell apart at the end (in a 7-6 loss),” he said. “Redwood is a good hitting team, well-disciplined and they can swing the bat and go up (to the plate) with a game plan. We’re just struggling to find our footing and identity.”

Redwood scored three runs in the first inning off starter Neveah Garcia, then added two more in the third and three in the fourth. Sophomore Cambria Alderete moved from third base to finish up in relief, and allowed the final two runs in the fifth.

“It’s changed the dynamics of our defense, and we’ve struggled with that,” Patterson said of Moreno’s absence. “I still feel like we’ve got a lot of potential. A lot of girls have a lot of experience. We’re taking some of our lumps and bumps and hoping to figure it out (for West Yosemite League play).”

Alderete had a single in the first inning but Dinuba stranded two runners. In the fifth, Ashlee Orozco and Haylee Quintana collected hits as the Emperors loaded the bases. But Redwood reliever Reagan King retired shortstop Bella Ortega on a comeback grounder.

Dinuba travels to Easton for a 6 p.m. non-league contest Friday, March 15 at Washington Union. The Emps then play at Edison High in a 5:30 p.m. start Wednesday, March 20 to complete a three-game road swing.

Redwood, meanwhile, hosts Madera (4 p.m.) and Pioneer Valley (6 p.m.) on Friday, March 15 before closing its tournament with a 2 p.m. game Saturday, March 16 against Mission Oak.

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