Valencia High’s Ally Shipman saw an outfielder bobble the ball deep in the left-field corner Tuesday and took advantage. Two batters later, Viking Kyla Hardy saw an opportunity to reward pitcher Shea O’Leary’s complete-game effort and ended the game.
Shipman led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a double and advanced 90 feet, sliding to beat the throw, on a Wildcats error.
Then, with runners at second and third, Hardy lined a single to left field to lift the Vikings to a 2-1 home win and at least a share of their second straight Foothill League title.
“I just wanted to get the runner in for my team,” said Hardy, who’d never had a walk-off hit before, “because Shea pitched really hard. She pitched a great game, and I just wanted to pay her back and reward her by getting that hit.”
Hardy also drove in Valencia’s first run with an RBI infield single in the team’s first at-bat.
Chandler Felan drove in West Ranch’s lone run in the second inning, shooting a ground ball into the outfield. Kennedi Sorensen scored from third on the play, but Valencia right fielder Makayla Paragas threw out Felan at first.
Defense was key all afternoon.
West Ranch right fielder Sara Olson also threw out a runner at first base. And she made a diving catch for the second out in the second inning.
Later in the frame, with the bases loaded, Valencia’s Noel Dominguez lifted a blooper over the pitcher’s circle. West Ranch shortstop Jaclyn Napoli laid out, full-extension, to keep the ball off the ground.
“These girls have heart, every single kid on this team has heart,” said West Ranch coach Jay Creps. “It’s just unbelievable.”
Ultimately, though, O’Leary kept the Wildcats (10-14, 3-4) off the board the rest of the way, retiring the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings and striking out eight batters in all.
West Ranch’s Makenna Harper nearly kept pace, limiting the Vikings (19-7, 7-0) to four hits, while walking seven.
However, Shipman accounted for three of the free passes, and Creps said before the season he planned to walk the catcher every time she stepped to the plate.
Then West Ranch pitched to her in the seventh, and she lined the ball into the left field corner.
“I was reading the ball all the way,” Shipman said. “I was watching, and I saw her kind of kick it around over there, so I decided, ‘I’m going three.’”
After Kelia Paragas walked and took second, Hardy sent her teammates running onto the field.
West Ranch’s Olson went 2-for-4, while Sorensen went 2-for-3.
Hart 10, Canyon 8
Brooke Marquez went 4-for-5 with three RBIs for Hart (13-11, 2-5), while Abby Sweet homered. Hart’s Andrea Cespedes was 3-for-4.
Canyon is 11-12-1 and 2-5.