The Pioneer Valley Panthers scored early and late.
The late runs were the key to the Panthers’ 5-2 victory over the Orcutt Academy Spartans Tuesday afternoon in a non-league softball game at Pioneer Valley High School.
Pioneer Valley scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the sixth.
“I saw it as important that the girls came out and scored some runs early,” said Pioneer Valley coach Kristina Sewell. “I think our defense today was stellar.”
The Spartans scored twice in the top of the seventh before the Panthers finished off the win.
Pioneer Valley starting pitcher Ashley Gutierrez was cruising along with a shutout until getting into trouble in the top of the seventh.
That’s when the Spartans scored twice and had Maddi Van-Muysen-Barber on second base before Gutierrez got the Spartans’ Alidoyi Talamontes to ground out, pitcher to first, to end the Spartans’ comeback bid.
“Ashley pitched a good game, she has a killer rise ball,” said Sewell. “In pressure situations, she’s able to keep her calm and her teammates respond to that.”
Gutierrez picked up the win in a complete-game, two-hitter. She walked three and struck out two.
Orcutt Academy’s starter Arianna Contreras also went the distance, giving up five hits with eight walks and two strikeouts.
The Panthers started fast.
After a one-two-three top of the first, the Panthers’ Aneisia Dollinger led off the bottom of the inning with a walk and then stole both second and later third base.
With one out, Monique Gomez beat out an infield single to shortstop but Dollinger was unable to score.
With two outs, Gutierrez walked, loading the bases.
Lisette Guzman followed with a single to left, scoring both Dollinger and Gomez.
Contreras got out of the jam with a ground ball to second.
“We just let it get a little out of hand in that first inning,” said Orcutt Academy coach Darrell Black. “It was the first time Arianna started for us. She’s only a freshman and she did a great job. It was nice to see her gaining confidence as the game went on.”
Contreras kept Pioneer Valley off the scoreboard again until the sixth.
But she got into some trouble in the third when two walks and a fielder’s choice put Gomez on third with two outs.
Contreras made a gem of a play to get out of the inning unharmed. She charged Gizelle Melero’s ground ball and kept running to home plate, beating Gomez to the plate and tagging her out to end the threat.
Gutierrez showed that both pitchers knew how to play great defense.
In both the second and third innings, the Spartans lead-off hitter tried to lay down a bunt but on both occasions, Gutierrez charged the ball and made quick throws to nail the runners at first base.
In the fourth, Gomez, Pioneer Valley’s second baseman made the defensive play of the game.
With one out, the Spartans’ Jordan Heath singled to center field.
Contreras hit a rocket to Gomez who fielded the ball, tagged Heath and threw to first to complete the game’s only double play.
Contreras was tiring late in the game and, in the sixth, the Panthers took advantage.
With one out, Aaliyah Peinado singled, Dollinger walked and Alexa Rivas beat out an infield single, loading the bases.
Peinado then scored on a passed ball.
Gomez walked to re-load the bases.
Breanna Galaties followed with a single to left that scored Dollinger and Rivas and the Panthers were up 5-0.
“We got some good hitters, we’ve just got to keep working,” said Sewell. “I’m still making some adjustments to the batting order so we can score some more runs early in the game.”
In the top of the seventh the Spartans’ offense got some life.
Contreras led off with a walk.
With one out, Sierra Cragg doubled to left, putting runners on second and third.
Shawna Flores then hit a rocket to right field but Peinado made a great catch and got the ball back in time to keep either runner from scoring.
Van-Muysen-Barber then knocked both runners in with a single to center, cutting the Panthers’ lead to 5-2, but that was as close as the Spartans would get.
Gutierrez fielded Talamontes’ one-hopper back to the mound and although Talamontes made it close by racing down the baseline, Gutierrez’s throw to first beat her to the bag to end the threat and the ballgame.
“We put the ball in play a lot and made some nice defensive plays,” said Black. “The team is coming together nicely.”
“As coach, I’m really lucky to have this really dedicated, hard working group of girls,” said Sewell. “It makes my job easier.”
Orcutt Academy (3-2) hosts Carpinteria Thursday in a non-league game at the Lakeview Junior High field.
Pioneer Valley (2-2-2) is on the road for its next game, a non-league game Thursday at Cabrillo.
Paso Robles 8, Nipomo 7
The Titans entered the seventh inning down 7-5 at Paso, but tied the game with two runs in the top half before the Bearcats scratched across the winning run in the bottom half.
Diana DeLeon went 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored.
Nipomo pitcher Mimi Wolf went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs. She also threw a complete game in the circle and gave up four earned runs on eight hits.
The Titans are 1-2 on the season and host San Marcos Thursday.
Gillaspy helps Poly to top 20 finish
FAIRFAX — St. Joseph High School graduate Desiree Gillaspy shot a final round 71 for Cal Poly in Tuesday’s second round of the Meadow Club Women’s Collegiate in Fairfax, Ca.
Gillaspy carded four birdies, a bogey and a double bogey, finishing one shot shy of her career best and placing in a tie for 13th place with four other golfers in the two-day 36-hole event.
Cal Poly posted a four-person 305 total, one shot higher than on Monday, and finished with a 33-over-par 609 aggregate and tied for 12th with Boston College.
Cal Poly returns to action March 26-28 at the Anuenue Spring Break Classic hosted by the University of Hawai’i at the Kapalua Resort’s Bay Course in Lahaina, Maui.