Valencia softball blanks Hart in league opener 

Abby Garcia (1) of Valencia beats the tag by Hart second baseman Alexis Lopez (7) in the second inning at Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Valencia junior pitcher Carly Kearns was in danger of losing her team’s hard-earned lead on Tuesday. Kearns was dynamic throughout the game but faced a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh against the visiting Hart Indians. 

The junior felt all of the pressure of the only league team that’s beaten her in her varsity career, but still came alive to force the final two outs.  

Kearns forced one out before she finished off the game the same way she started, with a big strikeout to defeat the Indians, 2-0. 

Carly Kearns (7) of Valencia pitches against Hart on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I’m just trying to get the first-pitch strike,” Kearns said. “Then after that I’m just trying to keep the batters off balance and just using my spin.” 

Kearns finished the game with five hits, five strikeouts, no walks and had a stretch where she retired 12 of 13 Indians. 

Valencia (7-3, 1-0) came to play at the plate as well and, despite being a little banged up, the team got the better of Hart’s standout pitcher Allison Specht. 

The Vikings were without Pittsburgh commit Hope Seper, who was out with an injury. Replacing Seper was sophomore Madison Stanchfield, who was one of four Vikings to notch a two-hit day on Wednesday. 

Stanchfield had struggled at the plate to start off the season but is finally heating up when her team needs her most. The designated hitter brought in the first run of the day in the second inning with an RBI single that scored senior Abby Garcia. 

Madison Stanchfield (12) of Valencia hits an RBI double in the second inning against Hart at Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal

“(Stanchfield) was struggling a little and she was getting really frustrated,” said Valencia coach Sean Pollard. “She just needed to work through it, and to her credit, she’s been really working hard. She’s doing amazing right now.” 

Vikings sophomore Blair Rune was another Valencia underclassman to bring in a run, as she also smacked an RBI single with the bases loaded to bring in one.  

Both Garcia and Rune finished the day 2-for-3 at the plate. 

The last Viking with a multi-hit day was freshman Syndey Boulder, who got on base three times in her 2-for-2 and one-walk day, while hitting in the two-hole. 

“I’m really proud of Sydney Bolder. She’s only a freshman and she’s just doing amazing this year,” Kearns said. “I’m so proud of her and I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do this year.” 

Valencia celebrates it’s win over Hart at Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal

Specht got out of numerous jams in the game and stranded nearly 10 Viking base runners as well as getting some nice pickoffs from her defense and freshman sister Nicole Specht from behind the plate. The Indian defense also turned two huge double plays to help strand numerous Viking base runners and keep the score tight.  

Allison was represented the game’s tying run in the seventh inning when she hit a huge single. The hit was just Hart’s second of the day that reached the outfield. Sadie Curtis then loaded the bases with an infield single in the seventh before Kearns shut down her final two opponents of the day. 

Allison Specht (55) of Hart pitches against Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal

Both Spechts and Curtis finished the day 1-for-3, while Sophia Parra led Hart, going 2-for-3. 

Valencia had been off to a great start to the season but improved even further after playing some tough competition at the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead, Arizona. The Vikings won three of their five games and received more tough game experience right in time for league play. 

“We’re battle-tested for sure,” Pollard said. “We saw real tough competition and we had some fun, too, so that’s always good. It was good for us, especially heading right into these tough league games right out the gate.” 

Valencia will look for its second straight win over another tough league opponent in Saugus, which was also in Bullhead gaining invaluable experience for its equally young roster. 

“We’ve got a big one on Thursday and I can’t take them lightly,” Pollard said. “(Saugus was) up at Bullhead, too, so they’re battle tested. It’s gonna be a big game … We’re excited to defend our title. We’re pretty young, though, and we’re working through some of that.” 

Valencia hosts Saugus on Thursday at 3:15 p.m. while Hart takes its league bye before returning to play on Tuesday at home with Golden Valley. 

Madison Stanchfield (12) is tagged out at second base by Alexis Lopez of Hart in the fourth inning at Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal
Valencia center fielder Abby Garcia (1) makes the catch for the second out of the third inning against Hart at Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal
Jeanelle Bacat (16) of Valencia makes the tag on Hart baserunner Zoey Guzman (19) in the third inning at Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal
Madison Stanchfield (12) of Valencia heads for second base after hitting an RBI double in the second inning against Hart at Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal
Valencia out fielders Abby Garcia (1) and Cayden Hobrecker (3) celebrate after Garcia made the catch for the second out of the third inning against Hart at Valencia on Tuesday, 030524. Dan Watson/The Signal

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