Saugus softball secures share of Foothill League title with win against Valencia

Teammates celebrate as Gracie Keene (20) of Saugus rounds first base after hitting a two run home run in the third inning against Valencia earlier this season. Dan Watson/The Signal

With Valencia softball’s Kylie Alonso headed from third base to home plate, Saugus’ Dallas Andrews was in a high-pressure situation. Katie Sare just put the ball in play and it was headed towards the outfield.

“At first I thought our second baseman, Bella, had it and when I saw she bobbled it, I was like, crap, I have to go and get the ball,” Andrews said. “And when I threw it, I tried and trust myself, especially in those big moments.”

She made a long throw to catcher Maya Avila, who tagged Alonso as she closed in on home plate, to bring Valencia’s momentum to a halt. All it took was another ground out and the Centurions walked away with an 8-5 win at Saugus on Tuesday.

With the win, Saugus (19-7 overall, 8-1 in Foothill League) has secured at least a share of the Foothill League title.

Leslie Reynaga (24) pitches for Saugus against Valencia at Saugus on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

While the Cents closed out the game with solid defense, they started the game with high-powered hits.

In her first at-bat of the game, Bella Alvarez stepped up to belt a three-run home run over the fence to drive in Andrews and Libbie McMahan for an early 3-0 lead.

“Honestly I was just trying to get a base hit, just move the runners over, just do my job and it just went over,” Alvarez said.

Valencia (19-8, 5-4) was able to capitalize on some Saugus errors in the second inning. Kailey West was hit by a pitch to get on first, then Macayla Paragas got on base on an error and Cheyanne Marxer reached second on an error immediately after to drive in two runs.

In the next at-bat, Lani Paragas reached first on an error and got the Vikings another run to tie the game at 3-3.

“I told the kids, when you put the ball in play it forces the other team to play defense, especially if you have speed,” said Valencia coach Donna Lee. “We put some pressure on them easily on and we just couldn’t sustain.”

Saugus scored two more runs in the third inning on a two-run home run from Gracie Keene.

“Hitting is contagious,” Andrews said. “One person starts hitting and then we kind of just bounce off of each other and I think that also our dugout helps … I feel like we feed off each other’s energy a lot and I think that helps.”

The Vikings struggled in the middle innings, leaving three runners on base in the third and grounding out three times in the fourth.

Saugus had similar struggles in the fourth inning. Clarissa Ellwein nearly got on base, sending a hit to left field, but Cheyanne Marxer made a diving catch for the third out.

The Cents were able to recover in the fifth inning to score twice. Gracie Keene drove in Andrews on a sacrifice fly, then McKenna Gibson cracked an RBI double two at-bats later.

Saugus’ McKenna Gibson (12) hits an RBI double in the fifth inning against Valencia at Saugus on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“We kind of just try to pick each other up and we talk a little bit in the circle, we tell each other like, calm down, we got this and that kind of keeps us in the game,” Alvarez said. “We motivate ourselves.”

Andrews hit an RBI single for the final Saugus run of the game in the sixth inning.

Valencia gained some momentum in the seventh inning, scoring two runs on a double from Kylie Alonso to cut the deficit to three with only one out. But the defensive play from Andrews to Avila shut the game down.

“For us to come out and get a win, you know, we have one game down and if we would’ve lost we would’ve tied with West Ranch,” Andrews said. “I think it was important to come out and keep our momentum going until the last league game on Thursday.”

Saugus will play at Hart on Thursday at Newhall Park at 7 p.m. Valencia hosts Buena tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. before traveling to Golden Valley on Thursday for a 3:15 game.

West Ranch 7, Hart 4

The Wildcats (13-7, 7-2) scored three runs in the first inning for a strong start. Leadoff hitter Sara Olson had three hits and Adrienne Chang had a solo home run. Jenna Rorick pitched a complete game with five strikeouts and two RBIs.

For the Indians (13-10, 5-4), Aly Kaneshiro was 2-for-3 with a home run, two runs and an RBI and Kam Smudde was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

With the win, West Ranch stays in contention for a share of the league title and hosts Canyon on Thursday at 3:15. Hart plays Saugus on the same day at 7 p.m. at Newhall Park.

Canyon 12, Golden Valley 11

Canyon’s Lyndsie Leonardo was 3-for-5 with a stolen base and McKenna Sas was 2-for-5 with a walk-off double. Jordan DeYoung went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Sophia Aguilar was the Cowboys’ winning pitcher.

Canyon is 3-19 and 1-8 on the season and Golden Valley is 2-16 and 0-9.

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