By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Hart softball (17-8, 7-3) completed the season sweep of the Wildcats in their 9-4 victory at West Ranch (15-9, 4-6).
Center fielder Tenley Sweet led the way for Hart, batting 3-4 including her 10th home run of the year.
The Indians hit well and had four players with multi-hit games on the day.
Hart got on the board first with a big five-run third inning.
Three straight hits opened up the inning before Alexis Lopez hit a one-out RBI single to get the first run across. Lopez finished 2-3.
Indians first baseman Cassandra Cavarretta hit a big RBI double to go up 4-0 before a wild pitch from Wildcat starter Emma Warford brought in the fifth run.
Warford redeemed herself with a leadoff hit in the bottom of the third. West Ranch would then get on the board behind a 2-RBI double from Lily Baggot.
Baggot finished 3-4 in her sixth three-or-more hit game of the season.
Sweet erased any Wildcat momentum with a solo shot to center field on a 3-1 count.
“I was just trying to barrel it up,” said Sweet. “But once it came off the bat, I kind of knew.”
Allison Howell got the start in the circle for Hart. The senior was solid in her complete-game win, striking out four while adding a hit and two walks at the plate.
“[Howell] battled and she never changed her composure,” said Hart head coach Steve Calendo. “Our defense made some good plays behind her but she threw good pitches when she had to against a good lineup.”
Indians sophomore Sophia Parra hit a big two-out 2-RBI single to end Warford’s day in the fifth inning.
West Ranch head coach Phil Giarrizzo threw in relief pitcher Francesca Decesare to finish the game.
Decesare got into a jam after her team cleared the bases with a double play. The pitcher quickly got the bases loaded and walked Indians designated hitter Allison Specht for the final Hart run of the game.
“The couple mistakes that we made didn’t cost us the game,” said Giarrizzo. “[Hart] hit the ball well. We had to make a pitching change and try to change it up a bit.”
Decesare shook it off and struck out her next batter to end the inning and strand three base runners.
Hart kept adding insurance runs throughout the game and West Ranch couldn’t add more than a couple of runs in their rallies. The Cats had some good deep hits but the Indian outfield held strong and made some great catches, including the game-ending play.
Howell pitched well all game but started heaving some balls low in the bottom of the seventh. The ace allowed consecutive hits with two outs left in the game. Howell had a potential one last assignment in West Ranch’s Paige Pikor, who had one hit on the day.
Pikor launched a ball deep into foul territory that Hart right fielder Kylie Pimentel somehow managed to track down. Pimentel made a diving catch to end the game.
The Indians have now clinched the third spot in the Foothill League but with some wins will have a chance to jump into second before the regular season concludes.
“I like the way we are hitting,” said Calendo. “We’ve been working with the second half of the lineup, trying to get more solid contact, hitting balls, and they did a pretty darn good job today.”
West Ranch is now aiming for fourth place after being swept by the top three Foothill League teams. The team is still in decent shape but will need to win out to ensure its postseason berth.
The Cats will take the field again Tuesday for their second league matchup with Golden Valley. Hart will also return home Tuesday for a matchup with Canyon.