Carson softball edges Hug
Appeal Sports Writer
This may be the first varsity softball team the Hug Hawks have fielded in three years, but they showed the Lady Senators that it wouldn’t be wise to overlook them in the future.
Carson needed to rally from a 3-0 deficit in the first inning and trailed again in the fifth before coming back for a 5-4 win Thursday at Carson High School.
Sophomore Christa Casci got off to a bumpy start on the mound, but was able to find her groove as the game wore on and earned the win in helping Carson gain its first victory of the season.
The Senators are now 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the Sierra League, while the scrappy Hawks fell to 0-3 overall and in league play.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth, freshman Cassie Vondrak hit a two-run double off Hug pitcher Niesha Washington to left field, bringing in Dacey Hassey and Abby Rankl (who both walked) for the 5-4 lead.
Casci did her part from the circle, ringing up three of her seven strikeouts over the last two innings to protect the lead. She had a lot of help from third base as freshman Katie McEwan scooped up a Victoria Vo bunt in the sixth inning and put her out at first.
McEwan followed with another stellar play in the seventh, fielding a hot shot from Andrea Rodriguez before gunning her down.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done,” said second-year Carson varsity coach Steve Vickrey. “They gave us a fight today. I’m not real happy with our performance. We struggled. We’re a young team. We had to overcome some mistakes to do it.”
Two of those mistakes helped the Hawks break a 3-3 tie in the top of the fifth, and they both occurred on the same play. Hug shortstop Blanca Figueroa, who had reached base with a single, went for the steal. Carson catcher Hassey fired the ball to second but nobody was home.
Center fielder Kaitlin Burroughs tried to nail Figueroa at third, but her throw was off and Figeuroa scooted home for the 4-3 lead. After walking Washington (who was later thrown out at the plate by left fielder Loretta Cagle) and surrendering a single to Angelica Abasta, Casci got Ana Puloka to ground out to second baseman Candice Rutledge to strand Abasta and end the inning.
Hug stranded five runners, Carson eight.
“The ladies played well, but they needed to put together a few more hits and give us the opportunity to score runs,” said first-year Hawks coach Mundie Slover. “We competed. It was a good game. The girls just have to work hard. We need to get over the hump.”
But it was Carson which needed to get over the initial hump, courtesy of a three-run first inning for Hug.
Rodriguez and Figueroa both singled to lead off the game. Washington followed with another single, bringing in Rodriguez for the 1-0 lead. After Abasta flew out to right and Casci struck out Puloka, Figueroa and Washington scored on a Gloria Sandborn single to extend the Hawks’ lead to 3-0.
Casci got out of the inning when Vo grounded back to the circle. Casci went the distance, allowing four runs, spreading out six hits and walking three.
“We were constantly pitching from behind the count,” Vickrey said. “Casci wasn’t firing on all cylinders. She was struggling a little. We didn’t help ourselves. Hug hit the ball well.”
Carson got one of the runs back in the bottom of the first, when Hassey doubled home Burroughs, who had walked. Four batters into the second, the Senators had tied it 3-3.
After hitting a two-out single, Cagle advanced to third on two wild pitches by Washington. Right fielder Sarah Evans followed with a walk.
Rodriguez was unsuccessful in picking off Evans at second, allowing Cagle to score from third to make it 3-2. Evans also advanced to third on the play.
Casci helped her own cause and tied it 3-3 when her single brought home Evans.
Washington went the distance for Hug, giving up five runs, five hits and 10 walks, while striking out two.
Vickrey credited Casci for keeping it together early and coming on later to seal the deal.
“Casci did a good job keeping them off-balance with her changeup – that was working for her,” Vickrey said. “Casci warmed up nice, but something wasn’t quite right. She’s a better pitcher than that. But she started throwing heat and finding her groove.”
Speaking of grooves, Vickrey is hoping his team will find its rhythm by this afternoon, when it faces Douglas in a doubleheader. The Lady Tigers took a 1-0 win in Minden on March 16.
“This wasn’t the type of performance we wanted to have heading into (their game with) Douglas,” Vickrey said. “We’ll have to come back (today).”
The Carson-Douglas doubleheader begins at Carson High School today at 1 p.m.