ATWATER — Extra-inning softball games can get the heart rate jumping for any player. Add your crosstown rival to the equation and it only gets more intense.
Buhach Colony junior Jen Moreno was able to fight through the nerves to have a perfect 4 for 4 day at the plate, including a a key run-scoring single during a three-run 10th inning as the Thunder outlasted Atwater 6-4 in 10 innings.
“I know for me, I have a lot of friends in the other dugout,” Moreno said. “It felt like I was having panic attacks the whole game.”
It was a test of will for the Thunder (7-2 overall, 4-1 Central California Conference) after they watched the Falcons (5-6, 2-3) erase a 3-1 deficit to force extra innings.
It finally took the international tie-breaker to get the offenses going in the 10th inning. Once the game reached the 10th inning, the hitter who made the last out of the previous inning began the inning as a runner on second base.
Sylvia Alvarado started on second base to begin the 10th for the Thunder. Leadoff hitter Catrina Wilson then singled to put runners on the corners. Moreno followed with an RBI single to give Buhach Colony a 4-3 lead.
Miranda Collins made it three straight hits with a single to plate Wilson. However, Moreno was thrown out trying to advance to third after the throw to the plate. Mary Castillo then hit a pop up that was caught in foul territory by Atwater first baseman Unique Espinoza. Collins tagged from second and advanced to third and was able to score when Espinoza’s throw was wild to third base to give the Thunder a 6-3 lead.
“My girls never give up,” said Buhach Colony coach Becky Gibson. “The kids stayed strong all the way through. I have to give it to Atwater. They’re a tough team, but I thought we’d prevail in extra innings.
“We did it before when we came back from 3-0 against Pitman to beat them in eight innings.”
The Falcons rallied late in the bottom of the 10th. Cheyenne Mahy singled in Martiza Iglesia to cut the Thunder lead to 6-4. After Gracie Santistevan singled the Falcons had runners on the corners with two outs, but Castillo struck out the final batter to end the game.
The Falcons relied on the top of their order to do all the heavy lifting.
Leadoff hitter Hayley Lawrence went 3 for 5 with three doubles and two runs scored and Santistevan went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. The top three hitters accounted for six of Atwater’s eight hits. The bottom three hitters combined to go 0 for 12.
“Hayley is coming up way too often with two outs,” Atwater coach Lori Kale said. “We need to get to the top of the order with less than two outs. The bottom of our order needs to do a better job of getting on base and at least turning our lineup over more often.”
Castillo pitched all 10 innings to pick up the win for the Thunder. The senior right-hander only struck out three hitters but got 15 ground ball outs.
“Mary was fantastic,” Gibson said. “She stayed strong for all 10 innings and that’s tough to do.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or email@example.com.