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SOFTBALL: Marauders’ pitcher bats in three, beats Panthers

Monache freshman hits triple to bat in three runners in the third inning to take the lead over rival Panthers

PORTERVILLE – Monache freshman Danika Sanchez led the Marauders on both offense and defense in their 5-3 win over Porterville.

The Monache Marauders faced off with their rivals, the Porterville Panthers, on Tuesday, April 25 and won 5-3. Freshman Danika Sanchez not only pitched four and a half innings, she also hit the triple that sent three Monache runners home for a 3-0 lead in the third quarter. Sanchez also threw five strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter until the fifth inning. Though it was only in the 80s, the direct sun on the field brought more heat than teams have experienced so far this season. Alysa Hernandez came in to close the final two and a half innings.

“My pitchers did what they were supposed to do,” Monache head coach Dave Koontz said. “I think the heat got to Danika a little bit. That’s when I brought in Alysa and she came in and she just shuts people down.”

Despite being only a freshman, Sanchez has been a solid starter for the Marauders and was the natural choice to start against the Panthers. The Marauders defense was strong to back her up, so her pitches were confident strikes. She didn’t walk a single batter until the fifth inning. In the first four innings, all of Porterville’s batters either struck out, were thrown out or hit fly ups that were caught. The Marauders defense showed their efficiency in moving the game forward.

Porterville’s pitcher, freshman Sophia Martinez, also had a great start. In the third inning, she had an off inning that the Marauders were able to capitalize on. Freshman Avery Smith got the first hit to get on base and was followed by Sareena Lemus and Devyn Emerson, who bunted to get on base before Sanchez stepped up to the plate. She didn’t need any time to adjust, but hit a triple on the first pitch she faced. After the three runners on base scored, Sanchez stole home to put the Marauders up 4-0.

“Pitchers have that one inning most games,” Porterville head coach Maddi Emerson said.

In the midst of changing pitchers when Sanchez started to get tired, the Panthers scored three runs, but otherwise, the Marauders defense was locked in and had minimal errors. While the Panthers put forth an effort to make a comeback in the sixth and seventh innings, they were consistently shut down by Hernandez. She didn’t strike out as many batters as Sanchez, the Panthers just struggled to catch up to the ball, which resulted in several fly outs.

“I’m proud of my team,” Emerson said. “They’re getting better and better. We had a couple of errors that cost us but overall I’m proud.”

The Panthers are 1-3-1 in league play, placing them in fourth place in the East Yosemite League. Their one win was over Golden West, while they tied with Mt. Whitney, who are in fifth and sixth respectively. On May 2, the Panthers will have to face the number one team, Redwood, at home.

The Marauders are in second place in the EYL, behind only Redwood. Their single loss in league play was a 2-1 loss to the Rangers in a competitive game that could go either way. While they’re looking forward to getting to defeat the Rangers, their focus is on their next game on April 27 against Golden West. Even though they’re ranked higher, the Marauders make sure to take every game seriously.

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