Titans clinch share of league title

Orange Cove’s Sarah Portillo runs the bases on the road against Farmersville.(Kason Clark)

Orange Cove softball moves to 6-0 in the East Sequoia-Redwood League after beating Farmersville; the Titans pick up the 5-1 road win after the Aztecs forfeited the game due to an injury

FARMERSVILLE – On the road this past Friday night, Orange Cove softball had the opportunity to clinch at least a share of the East Sequoia-Redwood League title. With a 5-0 record heading into their game against Farmersville, the Titans just needed a win to go up two games in the standings.

After a slow start on May 3, the Titans got going in the third inning to take a 5-1 lead over the Aztecs. However, a line drive by an Orange Cove batter struck a Farmersville outfielder Mia Murrilo in the face, causing cuts that required immediate medical attention. The Aztecs decided to forfeit the game to the Titans as their main concern was with their injured player.

“She should be okay but it’s just one of those unfortunate events,” Farmersville assistant coach Albert Romero said. “The girls decided to stop the game and we honored that decision.”

“It’s sad when that happens,” Orange Cove head coach Victor Contreras said. “It’s not about softball at that time, it’s about her health and getting to the hospital and getting taken care of there.”

With the unfortunate ending to the game, the Titans improved to 6-0 in league play and 17-9 overall. With the win by forfeit, the Titans clinched at least a share of the East Sequoia-Redwood League title with a week left in the regular season. While this was not the way they wanted to clinch it, they are happy to have accomplished one of their goals this season.

“It’s good,” Contreras said. “We’ve come a long way from eight years ago to now, where our goal is to win league and now we try to go represent our league and try to win Central Valley.”

The Titans also completed the season sweep of the Aztecs after beating them 12-0, earlier in the season. In their second meeting, the Aztecs scored first in the bottom of the first inning as they tried to avoid the sweep. But the Titans eventually got going in the top of the third.

After two runners got on base to open the inning, Mia Castillo crushed a home run to left field to give the Titans a 3-1 lead. After a double from Hazel Ocejo, Madeline Powers brought her home with an RBI single. Powers then scored herself on an error to make it a 5-1 lead for the Titans.

“We knew we had to score some runs and I can tell they started picking it up in the third inning,” Contreras said.

Farmersville’s Jolina Castaneda bats at home against Orange Cove. (Kason Clark)

But in the next at bat, an Orange Cove batter hit the ball hard to center field where it went through the top of Murillo’s glove and hit her in the face. She was wearing sunglasses, so the ball shattered them and caused cuts along her brow and upper nose.

After Murillo received medical attention, the Aztecs decided to stop the game. With their forfeit, Farmersville dropped to 13-10 overall and 5-2 in league play. While the Aztecs look to finish the regular season strong, their main focus going forward will be the health of Murillo.

“Right now, we’re just focusing on Mia and then after that, once we find out she’s okay, we’ll start focusing on our next games,” Romero said. “It’s all home games so that’s fortunate for us that we don’t have to travel that last week, so it’ll just be one game at a time.”

Along with clinching a share of the league title, Orange Cove notched its 11th straight victory heading into the final week of the regular season. As the Titans head into their final couple games before the postseason, the focus will be staying healthy and getting the underclassmen ready for the home stretch.

“We need everybody to stay healthy,” Contreras said. “We have seniors who are going to graduate. They have functions to go to so these other girls have to come together, work hard and help those seniors.”

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