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All it took was one swing for Sierra Preston to set the tone for Lompoc High softball at Vandenberg Village — the first swing to be exact.

Preston, the lead-off batter against Cabrillo, pounded a ground ball down center field that zipped between the outfielder’s feet, turning the single — and the game’s first pitch — into the first run of the game and helping lead to the 11-2 romp of the Conquistadores on Friday.

Once Preston saw that the neon green ball rolled to the center field fence, she took advantage and touched all four bases to start the LHS win.

“It was right down the middle. I was just relaxed and I waited for it, then swiped it,” Preston said, who added she’s had a similar hit like that in her younger years.

Her head coach Margie Ledgerwood was another one impressed with the first hit of the game.

“She hit the ball hard and put it in play. But she got a bounce after that and took advantage of it,” Ledgerwood said.

But Preston wasn’t the lone top hitter for the Braves, as Ledgerwood pointed out “everyone hit the ball well today.”

In the top of the second inning, Jacqueline Casteneda started things out with a single to center field. Then, an error at second base got Casteneda to charge home and extend the lead to 2-0. Then, Preston again got the Braves on the board, this time through a sacrifice fly ball that brought Alycia Lowery home, making it 3-0.

Casteneda would return in the top of the third inning by driving in two more Brave players with her single, blasted between left and center field, extending the lead to 5-1.

More Cabrillo (4-8, 1-3 in the LPL) miscues continued in the top of the fifth. Heidi Cardenas smashed a single toward left field — and the ball bounced off of two CHS defenders for the RBI. That hit put LHS up 6-1.

Haley Larsh, Jayden Andrade and Mariah Villalobos would add RBI’s the rest of the way while Mya Mendoza and Lexi Porter added to LHS’s scoring with their runs.

Freshman Harley Madra chipped the game’s last RBI in the bottom of the seventh for CHS — which was a sacrifice ground ball. Cabrillo head coach Adrian Abayari said this season has seen more of a youth movement for the traditional LPL powerhouse, with only two seniors and eight underclassmen on the current roster.

“They’re not a new team, but they’re a very inexperienced team,” Abayari said. “In that sense, you’ll have different levels of play where some girls are at a high level and some are really rookies. You’ll see on the field that the high level girls are trying to pick up the low level girls and say ‘Hey, we can do this.’ But it’s tough because those girls need the experience as well — and the experience comes from bumps and bruises like this.”

Abayari, though, says he hasn’t seen one CHS player vent in frustration about how the season has gone and describes it as a crossing the valley moment for the girls.

“They’ve had their head up,” Abayari said. “I know it’s frustrating for them and it’s disappointing. The morale is fine. We’ve had flashes. The peaks and valleys are rather too much. I would rather have the peaks and valleys to be stretched out a little farther. If we’re in a valley, then it’s ‘let’s stay in the valley and figure this out.’ But they play hard. For us, finishing strong is more team goal oriented than opposed to records and CIF playoffs.”

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Sports Reporter