SOFTBALL: Hawks take flight in sixth for comeback victory

The Mission Oak Hawks make a sixth inning comeback to beat the El Diamante Miners 7-5 in their final game before league play begins

VISALIA — Shortstop Rebekah Beasley played lights out defense to keep the Hawks ahead after scoring the game-winning run in the sixth inning.

The Hawks turned around a two-run deficit in the fifth inning to beat the Miners 7-5 on March 31. Down after four innings, the Hawks scored two to tie it in the fifth before the Miners took back the lead. After runs by Emma Marquez and Emma Osborne, Mya Ortega got a base hit that sent Rebekah Beasley home for the winning run. Pitcher Maleena Martin held off the Miners for the sixth and seventh innings to seal the win.

“[In the fifth inning] we were just hitting the ball hard and hitting it right at them,” Mission Oak head coach Ilissa Facchini said. “And finally we started making consistent contact at the plate.”

Despite a slow start, the Hawks made a huge turnaround beginning in the fifth inning. They first tied the game and were passed by the Miners again, but were determined to make their comeback. They were at the bottom of their pitching order, but that didn’t stop them. Marquez and Osborne got base hits and were on base when Beasley came up to bat. On the second pitch, Beasley knocked the ball into the outfield to send Marquez and Osborne home to tie the game at five.

The next batter was out on a pop up to center field, but Beasley progressed to second. The Hawks had two outs and needed one more run to take the lead. That’s when Ortega stepped up to bat. Ortega had already batted in a runner in the previous inning to tie the game and she was just what Beasley needed to get home. On Ortega’s base hit, Beasley rounded third and slid into home for the winning run.

“We had a lack of communication,” Miners head coach Stephanie Rapozo said. “And when you have a lack of communication, that’s when errors happen.”

The Miners had a great start and pulled ahead quickly, but struggled as the game went on and the Hawks seemed to settle into play. They made more fielding errors that allowed runners to advance, putting the Hawks in position to score. Their batting also faltered when they needed runs at the end. They weren’t swinging at the right pitches and seemed to struggle with running, knowing when to move on or stay on base.

Mission Oak’s top pitcher was out, but Martin stepped up to the job. She also pitched for the Hawks in their last game against Kingsburg, a 7-0 loss, but improved against El Diamante. Martin usually plays in the infield and hasn’t had a lot of pitching time, but when it came down to it, she kept the Miners from scoring in the sixth and seventh and ensuring the lead that the Hawks worked so hard for on offense.

Beasley was also a key player for the Hawks on defense. She was very active at shortstop, diving for ground balls and making key throws for outs. Her direction of the defense and backup of the base position was important against the Miners, who put a lot of runners on base throughout the game. The Hawks’ work on defense definitely contributed to their win.

“[Beasley] has been lights out on defense, diving for balls, not just making plays but effort wise and working hard,” Facchini said.

The Hawks have had a tough string of losses, but this win over El Diamante will boost their confidence as they head into league play. Their first league game will be against Tulare Western on April 12.

This is the third loss in a row for the Miners, who will hope to regain some confidence during a tournament early next week before their first league game against Redwood on April 11.

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