Saugus softball tops Hart in late-game thriller

Saugus senior Malia Risdall fires home in a matchup with Hart at Saugus High School Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Resiliency was key in a back and forth Foothill League softball game between Hart and Saugus at Saugus on Tuesday.

Sitting atop the Foothill League standings, both the Centurions and Indians put on a hitting show through seven innings of play as Saugus got the last and most important hit of the game, coming away with 8-7 walk-off victory.

“That was just a fun game to be a part of,” said Saugus head coach Julie Archer. “It was high intensity on both sides. I’m proud of my team to come through and get that clutch hit in the end. We just have to keep plugging away and take it one game at a time.”

Hart lit up the scoreboard first in the top of the first inning as Aly Kaneshiro hit a two-run home run over the center field wall to give the visitors an early lead.

Down 2-0, Saugus (16-6 overall, 5-0 in Foothill League) answered with a two-run home run of its own, as Allie Enright crushed a ball over the right field fence to bring in McKenna Gibson over from third base to tie the game.

Saugus pitcher Malia Risdall ran into some trouble in the top of the third inning, loading the bases after a four-pitch walk to Kathryn Smudde to bring up the younger Smudde, Kameryn.

Kameryn did not disappoint, hitting an RBI single to bring in Briana DeLaMaza for the go-ahead run for Hart (11-8, 3-2).

Risdall regrouped and got Hart’s Brooke Dragoloski to ground out to end the inning, giving up just the one run.

“I thought she did a great job coming in,” Archer said. “Leslie (Reynaga) was a little off today and the fact that we can go with another pitcher, Leslie has been our number one for a while, and Malia stepped up big time. She came in and did a really good job showing composure on the mound and going after their hitters.”

In the bottom half of the inning with runners on second and third base, Maya Avila saw her opportunity and connected, sending a ball into right field that brought in two more runs for the Centurions to give them a 4-3 lead.

Kameryn Smudde picked up another two RBIs in the top of the fifth, hitting a double.

Smudde finished the game 2-for-4 with four RBIs and one run.

Hart’s Juliette Owens hit an infield pop up toward Saugus shortstop Libbie McMahan, but the sun got in her eyes allowing another Hart run to cross the plate making it 6-4.

McMahan quickly made up for the mishap collecting Lauren Neal’s ground ball and firing it over to first base for the third out.

After the first two Saugus batters reached base safely to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Gibson and Avila hit back-to-back RBI singles to tie the game at 6-6 with no outs.

Hart’s freshman pitcher Allison Howell showed some fight and guts getting the following Saugus batter to strikeout, but intentionally walked Enright to load the bases.

A heads up defensive play got the force out at home plate for the second out of the inning and with the bases loaded again, Dallas Andrews came through with an RBI single to retake the lead for Saugus 7-6.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, Kameryn Smudde delivered an awkward ball down the first baseline.

Rounding the bases as if she were on fire and with the Saugus outfielders trying to get to the ball, Kameryn rounded third base for what would be a play at the plate.

Sliding feet first, Kameryn beat out the throw to home plate for the inside-the-park home run, tying the game at 7-7.

With just half an inning to play and looking like the game was headed to extra innings, Howell got the first Saugus batter to pop up for the first out. A blooper single and a fielder’s choice brought up Andrews with two outs.

Delivering just like she did in the fifth inning, Andrews rocketed an RBI double into center field, clearing the Saugus bench and securing the 8-7 comeback victory for the Centurions.

“I think it means everything to us especially coming in 4-0 in league,” Andrews said. “It was such a great victory to come back from them tying it up in the last inning and come back to win that game.”

Both teams hit the road on Thursday as Hart visits Golden Valley and Saugus travels to West Ranch. Both games are set to begin at 3:15 p.m.

“I think we did it the right way,” said Hart head coach Steve Calendo. “We were up from the first pitch all the way to the last pitch. It was a back and forth ball game. They made a couple more plays than we did and that was the difference. Otherwise, I thought both teams hit the ball well.

But if our team shows the same energy they played with today in the last five games of the season in league, we will be ok.”

West Ranch 3, Canyon 1

West Ranch (8-6 overall, 3-2 in Foothill League) collected nine hits on its way to its third Foothill League win of the season at Canyon on Tuesday.

The Wildcats return home to play Saugus at 3:15 p.m. while the Cowboys (2-16, 1-4) stay put as they host Valencia at 3:15 p.m. Both games are on Thursday.

“It was a big win for us as far as league goes,” said West Ranch head coach Phil Giarizzo. “We can’t afford to lose in the league with how tight the race is with Valencia, Hart and West Ranch fighting for second and even third place.”

Valencia 22, Golden Valley 4

Valencia (16-6, 3-2) moves into a three-way tie for second place in the Foothill League with Hart and West Ranch.

Golden Valley (2-12, 0-5) is still vying for its first league win and will get another crack on Thursday, hosting Hart at 3:15 p.m.

Valencia plays Newbury Park Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in a Suzanne Manlet Tournament game that was rescheduled.

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