Team goes 1-5 in opening games on the desert diamond
THE SANTA CLARA
February 12, 2014
The Broncos started off the season strong at the Grand Canyon Kick Off, beating University of Northern Colorado 10-2, but went on to lose the next five games in the desert.
The women opened their season with a busy weekend in Phoenix playing six games in three days.
Against UNC, junior Ciara Gonzales pitched and earned the win, allowing just two runs in six strong innings.
The team found itself in an early hole after allowing a solo home run in the top of the first. The Broncos didn’t take the control until the bottom of the fourth, when they tallied four runs, giving them a 5-2 lead.
“Offensively, we proved to ourselves that we have the ability to score in the late innings, and our team did a great job fighting ’til the last out,” said Head Coach Lisa Mize.
After a five-run sixth inning, the Broncos put the game out of reach and took the win.
It was a team effort on the offensive end, with eight of the nine Broncos getting a hit. Sophomore Gianetta France belted two home runs, and finished the game with four RBIs. Seniors Breezy Bernard and Jenna Krummen each drove in two runs of their own.
“This year, I am a lot more confident in facing collegiate pitchers,” France said. “I have been going up to the plate more aggressive because I know, for myself, I do better when I start off aggressive than I do when I wait for a couple pitches to go by.”
In the afternoon, Santa Clara faced the University of Tulsa. The Broncos got off to another slow start, but this time it was too much to overcome.
Tulsa jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first inning and never looked back. Despite out-hitting them 10 to five, the Broncos lost 9-6. Lack of control was an issue the entire game for Santa Clara, as the Broncos gave up 10 walks.
France continued to light it up at the plate, hitting another two home runs and driving in four more runs. Sophomore Geenamarie Bonilla also had a productive game, going 2-4 with a run and an RBI.
The Broncos faced Tulsa again the next morning, and lost another close one. Despite the 6-4 loss, Santa Clara’s freshmen really showed their potential.
In her first start, freshman McCall James went 6.2 innings, striking out one. Freshman Ellie Fisher was terrific at the plate, going 2-2 with a sacrifice, walk and two RBIs.
Santa Clara faced UNC for a second time in the afternoon. Northern Colorado got their revenge in the rematch, beating Santa Clara 5-0.
Gonzales had another solid start, giving up two earned runs in four innings, but with no run support, she earned the loss. The Broncos had their opportunities, leaving six runners on base, but they just couldn’t drive in the runs.
On the final day of the tournament, the Broncos had a double header with Grand Canyon University. Gonzales again started the morning game and she gave up five runs in 3.1 innings. James continued to gain experience, as she relieved Gonzales and pitched 2.2 innings, allowing two earned runs.
Junior Casandra Padilla had her best game of the tournament, going 2-3 with a run and RBI. Krummen drove in the other two runs for Santa Clara, who ended up with a 9-3 loss.
Santa Clara dropped the finale to Grand Canyon 6-2. The Lopes opened the game wide open in the third inning, scoring four runs.
France had a stellar game at the plate, blasting her fifth home run of the tournament and adding two more RBIs, giving her 11 for the weekend.
“I feel that starting off the season strong really helps with my confidence as a hitter,” France said. “I feel that it also gets other teams to become aware of the Santa Clara softball team as a whole.”
Mize drew France’s performance as the biggest positive from the Grand Canyon Kick Off.
“The highlight of the weekend was (France) being a beast at the plate,” Mize said. “She has worked really hard in practice and it was nice to see the payoff. I am really proud of her.”
Despite the early struggles, the season is still young and continuing to improve is the goal of the team.
“We really are just focused on getting better everyday and competing hard every inning and every out,” Mize said.
Santa Clara look to bounce back this Friday at Fresno State University.
Contact Andrew Slap at email@example.com .