Valencia softball one step too slow against Agoura

Valencia's Noel Dominguez (3) hits and RBI single in the third inning against Agoura at Valencia on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Valencia catcher Ally Shipman whipped the ball to third. Shortstop Noel Dominguez received the throw and darted toward second. Agoura’s Julia Noskin ran for dear life.

Dominguez dove and tagged Noskin just in time for the second out of the fifth inning.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, they never caught the Chargers in Tuesday’s home opener, falling 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel decided by a funky third inning.

The Chargers (5-2) led off the third with back-to-back infield singles. Then No. 3 hitter Lexy Mills drove in the game’s first run by scorching a single through the infield.

A run scored later in the inning on a passed ball.

Then the Vikings (3-3) answered on Dominguez’s third-inning RBI single, but the Vikings managed one more hit the rest of the game and went down in order in the seventh.

“We’re not going to become a team until our four through nine (batters) decide to hit,” said Valencia coach Donna Lee. “One through three can’t carry you every game.”

That’s been the case through an uneven first six games for the Vikings, who won their first three games by a combined 26-3 score but have lost their last three by a composite 9-3 mark.

No. 2 hitter Kelia Paragas went 3-for-3 with a double against Agoura. No small thing after she tore her ACL over the summer, necessitating months of rehab.

Tuesday wasn’t her first game back, but it was her best.

“It’s been really tough,” Paragas said. “I started off kind of shaky getting back. It’s been a long time. (But) I’ve been getting really confident.”

Valencia shortstop Noel Dominguez (3) makes the tag on Agoura baserunner Katelyn Haman (7) at second base at Valencia on Tuesday. Valencia teammate Zoe Roemer (13) looks on. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia pitcher Shea O’Leary, if not dominant, was more than solid. Working without her “A” stuff, she pitched to contact and worked around four Valencia errors.

O’Leary allowed three hits, all in the third, struck out four and walked one over seven innings.

“Nothing specifically was working,” O’Leary said. “It was kind of in and out. It was a little difficult. Sometimes a certain pitch would be really good against one batter, then it would change.”

What do you do on a day like that?

“I just have to have a good mentality and go out there and if something’s not working, you just have to work through it.”

Agoura pitcher Mills, a University of Kansas-bound junior, struck out 11 Vikings in a complete-game effort. Last season, Mills struck out 13 Vikings in a 3-2 Agoura win.

“She’s averaging 18 strikeouts a game,” Lee said, “so I told the girls, ‘Bottom line is we have to be disciplined up to bat. She’s a Division 1 player who we’ll deal with again next year, but right now, we’re in the present and we have to execute.”

Lee liked what she saw for the first couple innings, then…

“They got a little undisciplined.”

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