Casanova delivers for Le Grand softball in win over Delhi

slynch@mercedsunstar.comMay 3, 2013 

LE GRAND -- Cassandra Casanova stepped into the box with a smile on her face.

The Le Grand senior faced the exact same scenario she had one inning earlier. The bases were loaded with two outs and Casanova had a chance to win the game against Delhi.

She opted to try and enjoy the moment the second time.

"I went up there smiling and listening to all the cheering," Casanova said. "I hadn't been having a very good day at the plate and I just wanted to go up positive and feed off of the energy."

Casanova's approach paid off as she drove a 2-1 pitch into left field for a walk-off single. The 3-2 victory completed a wild Bulldog comeback and kept their Southern League title hopes alive.

Le Grand can grab a share of the league crown with a victory over Gustine next week. It almost never got that chance as Delhi sophomore pitcher Alyssa Stockton stifled the Le Grand bats through six innings.

Marissa Belmontes had the team's only hit -- a single in the fourth -- and only five Bulldogs had reached base going into the seventh.

The Hawks (18-7, 10-4 SL) had no such issues, picking up multiple hits in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings.

Delhi finally took advantage in the sixth, breaking the deadlock with a two-out, two-run single from Bianca Nunez.

The Bulldogs didn't go away, however, and the Hawks' youth and inexperience began to show in the seventh.

Madison Furtado worked a walk to lead off the inning, and a throwing error quickly moved the tying runs into scoring position with no outs.

A fielder's choice loaded the bases for Katelyn Grinder. She slapped a ball past a drawn-in infield to trim the lead to 2-1.

Stockton answered back with a strikeout and a force out. She couldn't finish it off, however, as Erica Perez forced in the tying run with a walk.

"We're young and our inexperience in big games like this showed in the last couple innings," Delhi coach Tami Tela said. "This was a playoff-type atmosphere, though, and it's just going to make us better for when we're in that situation."

The bottom of the order got the rally started again in the eighth.

Savanna Barnett drew a leadoff walk, and Furtado put two on with a bunt single.

Shelbee Baraza moved the runners over with a ground out and Rebecca Nichols drew a walk to load the bases.

Stockton almost got out of the jam again, getting a force at the plate for the second out. She just couldn't get Casanova out for a third time.

"I personally like having my back against the wall and being up with the game on the line. I'm not sure how my team feels about it, though," Le Grand coach Gia Pridell said. "You have to give the bottom of the order credit. They worked some big walks and got some key hits to get both rallies started.

"It's one we needed to have, and we found a way to get it done."

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