By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
The Glendora Tartans (18-9-2) won their opening-round Division 2 playoff matchup over Hart (20-8) on Thursday.
Glendora ace Bridget Nemeth gave the Indians fits at the plate and held a flashy offense to just one run.
Nemeth finished with one earned run, one walk and nine strikeouts while also batting 2-3 at the plate.
The game was close throughout, before the Tartans exploded in the fifth and pulled away. Nemeth kept dealing on the mound and Glendora got more insurance runs than they needed to win.
Senior Allison Howell started for the Indians one last time.
Howell started strong, retiring her first two batters before Nemeth went yard in her first at-bat.
Hart went down quickly in the first and kept falling victim to strong inside pitching from the Glendora ace.
“[Nemeth] did a pretty good job,” said Hart head coach Steve Calendo. “We just never could get anything going from pitching to defense to hitting.”
The Indians managed to tie in the third. Shortstop Kate Penberthy hit a two-out RBI single to score Tenley Sweet for Hart’s sole run.
The Tartans quickly retook the lead thanks to an RBI double from center fielder Haley Ganino.
Ganino led Glendora at the plate, batting 3-4 with 5 RBI and was a triple shy of the cycle in her third straight opening-round playoff win.
The center fielder was one of four Tartans with multi-hit games.
Glendora senior Ashley Hibbard then hit an RBI double in the fifth to pull away, 4-1.
“It was pretty tiring, it was hot,” said Howell. “I was hitting most of my spots. They’re just a good-hitting team.”
Hart had its best chance to jump back in the game in the sixth.
Senior Kameryn Smudde led off the inning with a base hit, leaving Nemeth with power hitters Penberthy and Alexis Lopez to deal with. Smudde managed to get to second on Penberthy’s ground-out, but took too big of a jump on Lopez’s ground ball. Glendora turned a crucial two and crushed Hart’s best shot.
The Tartans made sure to pick up a couple of insurance runs. Indian relief pitcher Emily Marr handled her first inning well, only facing three batters. Glendora then jumped on top of Marr’s pitching and quickly started to rally off a couple RBI doubles.
Howell was then sent back to the mound by Calendo in hopes to keep this game close. The ace’s tired arm did all she could in the seventh, but Ganino got the better of her and launched a grand slam out of Hart’s short field.
Glendora had the game in hand already but quickly found themselves up 10 runs.
“I thought we were ready,” said Calendo, “But they were a good team and they took advantage of our mistakes. But we really had a great season.”
The Indians ended their fantastic season earlier than expected but on the same day as the other three Foothill League playoff teams.
The team only had a handful of seniors but they were all crucial to the team’s success. Seniors like Howell, Smudde, Rebecca Jennerson, Kayla Isham, Kylie Pimentel and Cassandra Cavarretta all capped off great high softball careers.
Calendo will still have the bulk of his offense returning for next season as the team gears up to win its first league championship since 2008.