An offensive explosion in the second inning was more than enough for Valencia Vikings softball to reach victory in Tuesday’s home Foothill League matchup with the Hart Indians.
After a quiet first inning, Valencia went through the order in a hitting frenzy, scoring the majority of the day’s runs in the 7-1 win over Hart.
The Vikings (11-4-1, 7-0) poured in six runs in a second inning that included six hits, three RBI doubles and a home run.
The day started off in favor of the Indians (11-6, 3-1) as centerfielder Tenley Sweet smoked the first pitch she saw for a base hit. Sweet found her way home after a would-be pop fly got blown around in the wind off the bat of Alexis Lopez.
Valencia saw a similar start but no runs came of it. Vikings first baseman Hope Seper doubled on the first pitch she saw but was stranded in the first. Seper led all batters and finished 4-of-4 at the plate with two doubles, in a game Valencia thought would be a lot tighter.
“I was expecting a really close game, maybe even extra innings,” Seper said. “I’m really proud of my team. I thought we did a really good job today.”
Pitcher Carly Kearns had the first hit of the second-inning eruption. Valencia just kept smacking the ball into the outfield until catcher Addison Snyder hit a homer to go up 6-1.
Snyder was in a car crash just before the season started. The Fullerton commit struggled to get back into playing form but is finding her groove at the perfect time.
“I’m feeling good, much better now that I’m finally out of the concussed state,” Snyder said. “It was difficult, but I had my teammates, so it was easy with them beside me and my coaches pushing me. So, it was nice to have all of them.”
Snyder calls all the pitches from behind the plate, a rarity for high school softball. The ensuing momentum powered Snyder and Kearns on the mound to a complete game victory with one earned run and four strikeouts.
“Addie really helps me out,” Kearns said. “I feel more confident out there when she’s calling pitches for me.”
Hart was close to chipping at the lead but was held scoreless in the final six innings. The Indians stranded base runners in five innings of action. Indians head coach Steve Calendo has seen his team come far this season and thinks Tuesday’s loss was just a little speed bump.
“Outside of today, we’ve progressively been playing better,” Calendo said. “We’re down in Orange County playing some teams right now and we had the great win at Saugus. But this is league and league is different. It’s a different emotional animal for these kids, and they’re all buddies and friends so sometimes they react well to it, sometimes not as good and today was one of those not-as-good days.”
The Indians nearly poured in more runs early in the game but outfielder Haley Cheek helped the Vikings turn two after catching a fly out and sending a rocket to the plate, where Snyder was ready to make the tag.
The Vikings are now the last undefeated team in the Foothill League. The players feel good about where they’re at, with some solid pitching and offense.
“I think we’re capable of a lot of stuff as long as we just keep the energy up and keep watching the ball hit the bat,” Seper said. “I think we’re capable of doing anything. We’re a really good team this year.”
Senior Emily Marr entered in the fourth inning in relief for Hart sophomore Allison Specht. Marr held Valencia scoreless for the final three innings of the game.
“Emily did a very good job coming in today and Ally’s been pitching very well as of late. It just wasn’t her day today,” Calindo said. “A couple of miscues on defense kind of let Valencia get rolling but Emily came in and kept them down. So, she did a very good job. We just couldn’t get the runs across at that point.”
Valencia will return home to host Saugus on Thursday at 3:15 p.m. while Hart returns to tournament action over the weekend.
The Vikings are on pace for yet another Foothill League championship in head coach Sean Pollard’s first year. The team set out for that very goal before the season started. Every Viking has bought into Pollard’s coaching and is ready to reclaim the title at Valencia.
“Our biggest goal is winning league this year with our first-year coach Pollard,” Snyder said. “It’d be great for him and I think we all want to do it for him. I’m here for Pollard and here for the girls. This is my last year and I’m ready to ball out.”