The defending co-Foothill League champions picked up right where they left off last season.
Capped by Kelia Paragas’ “walk-off” grand slam, the Valencia Vikings opened up Foothill League play with a 10-0 win after five innings against the Hart Indians on a windy Thursday afternoon at Valencia High.
“Getting the first one is big,” said Valencia coach Donna Lee. “The conditions weren’t the greatest. But when you score four early runs, it really relaxes everybody.”
The Vikings (10-5 overall, 1-0 in Foothill) jumped out in front early, as they batted around and plated four runs on four hits in the first inning.
Ally Shipman set the table with a leadoff walk and scored on Kyla Hardy’s single, while Alexis Genovese finished the rally with an RBI-single to drive in Julia Fuentes.
“You can’t give them four runs to start off and give [Valencia starting pitcher Shea O’Leary] that kind of boost,” said Hart coach Steve Calendo. “We were in a hole right from the beginning.”
O’Leary, the junior right-hander and University of Texas commit, stifled the Indians from start to finish. She allowed three hits – all singles – with no walks and struck out four over five innings.
Hart (7-6, 0-1) threatened to score in the fourth with runners on first and second and only one out, but O’Leary induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
“I just wanted to go out there and have a good game. Have confidence in my pitches and confidence in my teammates behind me,” O’Leary said.
The Vikings added two runs in the fourth, including RBI-singles by Shipman and Paragas to extend the lead to 6-0.
And then Paragas delivered again, providing the finishing touches with one swing of the bat in the fifth.
With one out and the bases loaded, the junior outfielder lifted a pitch the opposite way and over the fence in leftfield for a mercy-rule-inducing grand slam.
“Oh my gosh. I just hit a home run,” Paragas said regarding her thoughts while seeing her teammates greet her at home plate after rounding the bases.
Lee said the grand slam was Paragas’ first-ever home run.
Paragas finished 3-for-4 with five RBI, while Noel Dominguez went 3-for-3 with a run scored. Shipman, Ashley Griffith, and Delaney Cruse each scored two runs for the Vikings.
Jordyn Gasper, Kylie Norwood, and Andrea Cespedes each went 1-for-2 for Hart.
Following spring break, the Vikings will attempt to stay unbeaten when Foothill League play continues on April 13 against West Ranch. Hart will look to bounce back against Canyon.
“Forget about it and let’s move on,” said Calendo regarding the message to his team after the game. “We’ll see them again.”