Valencia softball drops nail biter vs. Oaks Christian  

Victoria Tejeda (2) of Valencia makes the tag at second base on Oaks Christian baserunner Giabella Otani (19) in the sixth inning at Valencia on Tuesday, 022724. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Valencia softball took its first loss of the season on Tuesday to the Oaks Christian Lions in one of the strangest ways possible. 

The Vikings trailed, 2-1, with two on base and two outs after freshman Sydney Bolder, the potential game-winning run, drew a walk at the plate. 

Bolder made it to first but was called out on a dead-ball play, after she allegedly stepped off the bag toward second after the walk, ending the game.  

The call was a brutal blow to a team so close to notching its sixth straight win of the season but coach Sean Pollard was still proud of his team battling with a tough Lions team. 

Valencia (5-1) scored its only run of the day in the fourth inning and broke the scoreless tie with an RBI single from Vikings designated hitter Riley Jossett.  

Jossett finished the game 2-for-3, and was one of four Vikings who could get a hit off Oaks Christian pitcher Paytin Lavin. 

Riley Josett (13) of Valencia hits an RBI double in the fourth inning against Oaks Christian at Valencia on Tuesday, 022724. Dan Watson/The Signal

Lavin had some trouble with walks but forced outs when she needed to, stranding seven Valencia baserunners on the day. 

The Oaks Christian ace finished the day allowing just five hits, with three strikeouts. 

The Lions (1-1) shared similar issues as the team could only muster up two hits through the first pair of trips through the order off Valencia ace Carly Kearns. 

Carly Kearns (7) of Valencia pitches against Oaks Christian at Valencia on Tuesday, 022724. Dan Watson/The Signal

Kearns was rock solid throughout the game. Ilove’a Brittingham was the first Lion to register a hit in 10-straight at-bats and opened up the biggest inning of the game.  

Brittingham was brought in thanks to an RBI double from sophomore Terrianna Kelley, who scored in the next at-bat off another RBI hit from catcher Giabella Otani. Otani was tagged going for second as Valencia escaped the inning and erased any Oaks momentum. 

Kearns, a junior, allowed just six hits with no walks and three strikeouts. 

“(Kearns) is pitching amazing,” Pollard said. “That’s a tough lineup and then to go through that lineup three times and only get two runs up is pretty impressive. It was really just that one inning they were able to find green with hitters at the top of their lineup. They’re good and you can’t hold them down all game.” 

Kearns played well with her defense executing behind her. Shortstop Jeanelle Bacat made the highlight of the day with a huge diving stop. Bacat looked like she had merely stopped the ball, but the senior made the throw from her side on the ground, throwing out Lions senior Kamryn Guthrie. 

“(Bacat) is having a really great year all around but especially on defense,” Pollard said. “That was from her backhand side and then to dive and make the stop was incredible, but then to have the strength to throw her out, too. That was impressive. That was as good as it gets.” 

Abby Garcia (1) makes the catch for the first out of the fourth inning at Valencia on Tuesday, 022724. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth but sparked when it mattered most. Jossett opened up the bottom of the seventh with a base hit and found her way to third before Bolder’s walk. 

The Vikings were inches away from a potential walk-off or extra innings as the game ended with Pittsburgh commit Hope Seper due up to the plate.  

Valencia will look to rebound against more tough competition as the team heads to Arizona for the Bullhead tournament. The tournament notoriously features some of the premier teams on the west coast and will test the Vikings before heading into Foothill League play next week. 

“(Oaks Christian) is a really good team for a reason,” Pollard said. “We had our chances, though, but this is good for us. We need to play pretty good teams this preseason. Bullhead will test us quite a bit, too. We want to be battle tested coming in league and I think we’re going the right way.” 

Valencia will play through the tournament over the weekend before opening up league play at home on Tuesday against Hart. 

The Indians were the only team to knock off the league champ Vikings last season. Hart will look to do the same on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. 

Sydney Bolder (10) of Valencia beats the tag at third base against Oaks Christian in the first inning at Valencia on Tuesday, 022724. Dan Watson/The Signal
Outfielder Cayden Hobrecker (3) makes the catch for an out in the third inning against Oaks Christian at Valencia on Tuesday, 022724. Dan Watson/The Signal

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