Tigers maul the Grizzlies in 20-1 rout

Granite Hills’ Soldad Sanchez throws the ball to first base against Woodlake.(Kason Clark)

Woodlake softball dominates in a 20-1 road win over Granite Hills; the Tigers are now off to a 1-0 start in the East Sequoia League

PORTERVILLE – Woodlake softball has dominated non-league competition this spring, and have now carried that over into the start of East Sequoia-Sequoia League play. As they went on the road this past Friday night, the Tigers rolled against the Granite Hills Grizzlies.

The Tigers took control from the open pitch as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Over the rest of the night, the Tigers continued to light up the scoreboard as they went on to defeat Granite Hills, 20-1, to open league play on April 12.

“We had a good start which set the tone early,” Woodlake head coach Ramon Lara said. “We’re always worried about that first league game. Especially with a couple of our last games which haven’t been real competitive so we were a little worried about making sure our girls were sharp.”

As Woodlake improved to 15-2 overall this season, many Tigers had strong nights at the plate. Audrina Rodriguez excelled on offense with two home runs and five RBIs and she also pitched well with only one run allowed across her three innings on the mound.

“I just knew I had to hit my spots and I knew that they were going to try and take the first pitch,” Rodriguez said about her pitching performance. “I trusted my defense. I knew they were going to hold it down. That one hit is going to happen, it happens every game but I really just stayed up and knew I had to hit my spots for the rest of my innings.”

At the plate, the Tigers pounced on the Grizzlies in the top of the first inning. After the leadoff batter reached base, Noemi Aldana tripled to center field to drive in the run for the lead. Rodriguez then crushed a two-run home run to left to extend the lead.

“I just knew I had to put the ball in play whether it was a home run or not,” Rodriguez said about her big hit. “We had a runner on third so I knew I had to score to get our team going in the beginning.”

Later in the inning, Hannah Lafferty drove in another run with an RBI triple to left. She then scored on a sacrifice fly from Mareli Zamora to make it a 5-0 lead for the Tigers. In the bottom of the first, Granite Hills’ Soldad Sanchez scored on a fielder’s choice to cut the deficit 5-1. But that would be the only run for the Grizzlies.

(Kason Clark)

When the Tigers returned to the plate in the second, they picked up right where they left off. Aldana got it started with an RBI double to center. Rodriguez followed that up with an RBI single  to make the lead 7-1.

Later in the inning, Lafferty drove in another pair of runs with a double to center. Zamora then made it 10-1 with an RBI single to center. In the bottom of the second, the Woodlake defense recorded three quick outs to hold onto momentum.

“We started a little shaky but then after that, we made every play which made the innings go a lot quicker,” Lara said about the defense. “Our pitchers could throw less pitches which helps keep them fresh.”

Rodriguez opened the third inning with a two-run home run to center to make it a 12-1 game. Mia Aldana kept it rolling when she drove in another pair of runs on a single to right. Later in the inning, the Tigers took advantage of the Grizzlies’ mistakes when Evelyn Acosta scored on a wild pitch and Mia Aldana scored on a bases-loaded walk.

Even with the big lead, the Tigers continued to pile it on. Joey Huntington made it an 18-1 lead with a two-run double. Lafferty then drove in another pair of runs with a triple to make the final score 20-1. She finished her night with five RBIs for the Tigers.

The rest of the night, the Tigers shut down the Grizzlies to close it out in five innings. With their loss in open league play, the Grizzlies dropped to 9-9 overall this season. As the young Grizzlies move forward, Granite Hills head coach Marisela Chavez believes they can still make the postseason if they continue to grow.

“My message to my team is to keep working hard,” Chavez said. “I tell them every single one of them has to put in the work and they’re doing a good job and we deserve to go to the playoffs. I think moving forward, what we’re looking for is the playoffs.”

With their strong play this season, the Tigers have demonstrated their ability to get the bats going and play strong defense. But as they head into the rest of their league schedule, Lara believes there are still some areas of the game where the Tigers can improve.

“It’s more of the mental side of it,” Lara said. “We have to make sure we don’t make any mental mistakes on the field whether you’re base running or playing defense.”

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