Tigers roar with a 3-0 starting pitch

Exeter’s Chloe Sparrow pitches against Woodlake. With their loss to the Tigers, the Exeter Monarchs fell to 1-3 this season.(Kason Clark)

Woodlake softball picks up a 16-0 win on the road against the Exeter Monarchs; Audrina Rodriguez pitches a complete-game shutout and adds three RBIs to her stat sheet

EXETER – Woodlake softball has been off to a strong start this season, and that was no different this past Tuesday night. Facing the Exeter Monarchs on the road, the Tigers took the lead early on and ran away for the 16-0 victory.

“It took us a little bit to get going, but overall the girls did well,” Woodlake head coach Ramon Lara said about the victory.

With the win on March 5, the Tigers improved to 3-0 to start this season. With an undefeated record early in the year, Lara believes the Tigers are playing well on both sides of the plate.

“We have a pretty balanced team,” Lara said. “We have a couple of girls that can pitch and we have girls that can hit so overall we’re going to be pretty balanced this year.”

Audrina Rodriguez is one player who has performed well on both sides of the plate this season. Against the Monarchs, she pitched a complete-game shutout and she also made an impact at the plate for the Tigers.

With the bases loaded in the top of the first inning, Rodriguez hit a double to drive in two runs to give Woodlake a 2-0 lead. Then in the top of the third, Rodriguez drove in Noemi Aldana with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead. An Exeter error then allowed Mareli Zamora to score to make it a 4-0 game.

In the top of the fourth, the Tigers continued to add onto the lead. Ella Lara drove in another run with a single to left field. An Exeter mistake then allowed Lara to score to make it a 6-0 lead. Along with getting a read on what Exeter was pitching, Rodriguez believes the Woodlake offense was fueled by their collective energy.

“We all hyped each other up,” Rodriguez said. “We all cheered each other on so it was just a team effort. Everybody did their part.”

The Tigers extended the lead to 8-0 in the top of the sixth thanks to another Exeter error. The Tigers then piled it on in the top of the seventh with eight runs to make it a 16-0 lead. Both Rodriguez and Ella Lara finished the night with three RBIs.

Rodriguez then closed it out in the bottom of the seventh to secure the shutout victory. Even with the big lead, Rodriguez was motivated by her team to continue pitching well.

“I just knew I had to do it for my team. My team works hard all year and they really keep me up,” Rodriguez said. “They do whatever they need to do to keep me up. They keep me on top all the time.”

With their strong play, the Tigers handed the Monarchs their third straight loss to fall to 1-3 on the season. While the Monarchs have had a tough start to the year, Exeter head coach April Zamora believes her young players will learn from these experiences.

“We’re able to find positives in all of our games so even though it was a 16-0 loss, I think there were some things that we learned,” Zamora said. “We’re a very young team so these girls are still learning as we’re playing. I’m not worried about our record of 1-3. I think we’ve got some more wins in us and we’re still waiting for some girls to join us so once we have a full team, I think we’ll really start to click.”

The Tigers are playing well to start the season, but they have lost some game time because of heavy rain. As his players get some more and more playing time this spring, Ramon Lara expects the Tigers to improve on their already strong start to the season.

“I think as the games go on and we see a little more live pitching, I think it’s going to help us,” Lara said. “It’ll help our hitting, help our defense and help our pitching.”

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