Los Banos High’s softball team put on a defensive display in Wednesday’s 6-3 victory over Patterson.
All three outfielders (Nicole Marchese in left, Melanie Silva in center and Jenna Gilardi in right) chased down fly balls an outfielder really had no right catching. Marchese didn’t quite get under the one she chased down in the sixth inning, but her diving stop prevented a runner from advancing to third for what would have been a sacrifice fly on the next play, when Silva caught a fly in the gap at a dead sprint just steps from the warning track.
“I thought it was going over,” Silva said, “so I looked for the fence first, and then I just got it.”
Silva’s catch kept two Patterson runs off the board. Gilardi, meanwhile, ran down a popup in foul territory to help stop a Patterson threat in the top of the seventh.
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LB’s infielders got in on the act as well, with shortstop Alyssa Waltman doubling up a runner after snagging a line drive in the fourth to help hold the visiting Tigers to one run that inning, and second baseman Haley Quintana chased down a popup in the seventh that appeared headed for the outfield grass before the wind pulled it back near the pitcher’s circle.
“The greatest thing about it is what we preach all the time – you’ve got to play defense,” Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso said. “We did a good job of playing defense and making plays when we needed to make them. I tip my hat to Patterson, they swing the bat. They had plenty of chances today, and our defense did a great job of just keeping us in the ballgame.”
The Los Banos offense, meanwhile, chugged away with single-run innings in the first (Waltman scored when Angela Rodriguez hit into an error), third (Kylee Cardoza walked and scored on a Taylor Harris sacrifice fly), fourth (Marchese was hit by a pitch and later scored on an error off a Quintana hit) and fifth (Waltman led off with a single and scored on a Harris double) followed by a pair of insurance runs in the sixth on a Cardoza single with runners on second and third.
“We needed those. We responded. When they got a run, we got a run to top that,” Caropreso said. “That helps, because if we don’t get those runs, we’re always chasing. That last inning, Evelyn (Johnson) comes in and pinch-hits for Bri (Flores) to get her loose quicker, four-pitch walk and it all started going from there. It was a total team effort today.”
After the Tigers lost both games last week, Caropreso gave the players several days off from practice, and Silva said it helped the players bond a little more.
“Maybe I look like a genius from last week, giving them those days off, I don’t know, like I told you, I might look like a genius and I might look like a dummy,” Caropreso said. “But we came out Monday at practice rejuvenated, with a little more fire, we had a great practice yesterday, and we came out today and played well.”
The Tigers played Central Catholic, another team in the chase for the playoffs, on Thursday. Result were unavailable at press time.