Valencia Vikings softball displayed athleticism and dominance in the circle in Thursday’s home Foothill League win over the Canyon Cowboys.
Three Vikings pitchers combined for a one-hitter in the 6-0 win and marked the fifth Valencia shutout this year already.
Vikings sophomore Carly Kearns got the start and was perfect through three innings of work. Kearns credits a lot of her success to her anchor behind the plate, catcher Addison Snyder.
“I felt great. I was hitting all my spots,” Kearns said. “I just love how Addison Snyder just gives me encouraging compliments behind the plate and stuff… I feel really confident this season. I’m just so thankful to have an amazing catcher behind the plate. She’s a role model for me and I look up to her.”
Kearns fanned six Cowboys in her quick three-inning performance.
Junior Maggie Mrowca entered in relief in the fourth. Mrowca brought the heat to the mound as well, walking just one batter but kept the no-hitter alive through her three innings in the circle.
Mrowca finished with three strikeouts.
“Our pitching is really strong this year and I think that’s what’s going to carry us really far this season,” Mrowca said. “Everyone is working as a team, and we’re all just playing together and we’re doing really well. Both of our catchers are really good and they support us so well.”
Freshman Madison Stranchfield closed the game for Valencia (6-3-1, 3-0). The freshman gave up the only hit of the day to Canyon sophomore Jessica Carr, but looked strong with two strikeouts behind some fast pitching.
The Vikings’ offense also came to play with a pair of bombs. Leadoff hitter Haley Cheek led all batters with a three-hit day while third baseman Allyson Wolf brought in the runs. Wolf cleared the bases with an RBI double in the second inning before sending a solo home run to left in the fourth.
“I was just thinking, hit it back to the pitcher, and looking for solid line drive,” Wolf said. “I do it for my team, especially when there’s runners on. I was just going up there thinking I want this for my team and I want this win.”
Carr pitched well in her start for Canyon (2-6, 0-2), but a handful of fielding errors tallied up the runs. Junior Gabby Wensley entered in relief in the fifth inning and locked in after a bumpy start.
Freshman Blair Rune fired Wensley’s first pitch of the day out past left field for Valencia’s second homer of the day.
“I think a lot of us are just really confident up there and we’re doing our best,” Wolf said. “We’re working with each other in the dugout, telling each other what we see. That’s just helping us with the mentality when going up to the plate knowing what we’re looking for, knowing what we’re not, and just overall helping us really have a strong offense.”
Wensley settled in and retired her next five opponents to keep the game within reach.
The Cowboys have had a bumpy start to the season but have been in most of the games they’ve dropped. Head coach Todd Wensley will hope to see his offense improve after facing some ferocious Viking pitching.
“We have been hitting the ball well,” Todd said. “But when we see different pitching, faster pitching and stuff like that, it takes a little while to catch up. So we just have to keep working at it. We’ve just got to make hitting and defense an emphasis at practice for the rest of the season.”
Valencia head coach Sean Pollard has a lot less to worry about in his first year with all his pitching depth.
“We’re pretty happy with the pitching staff,” Pollard said. “It’s a good thing for us and having that depth has been really handy. They’re all pitching really well.”
Mrowca is the only pitcher from Thursday’s one-hitter who is a returner and is happy to see the program’s level of play in the circle on the rise.
“We haven’t had that in a long time for Valencia softball,” Mrowca said. “Honestly, our pitching is killing it this year. And I’m so proud of every single one of them because they’re my best friends and I just want us all to do well.”
The Vikings are off to a great start in league play. Valencia will have more tournament action over the weekend before returning home on Monday to host West Ranch at 3 p.m. Canyon will look to tune up the offense when the team returns home on Tuesday to host Castaic at 3 p.m.
“We still have some non-league games,” Todd said. “So, I want to see good effort in those games. I’m hoping that those will prepare us for the league games that we have. I don’t see us getting blown out. I see us competing in every single game. And if we can get six wins, we’ll be fine. So, we still need to work on our hitting and clean up the difference a little bit, but I think we’ll be fine. I haven’t given up hope yet.”