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Carr leads Canyon softball past Golden Valley, stays in playoff hunt  

Canyon High School sophomore Karina Montero (10) beats Golden Valley High School freshman Emma Valenzuela (27) to third base during the game on Tuesday at Canyon High School. 041624 Katherine Quezada/The Signal
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Canyon Cowboys pitcher Jessica Carr made it impossible for Golden Valley Grizzlies softball to heat up at the plate on Tuesday. 

Carr led Canyon from her home circle in the 3-0 victory, torching Golden Valley with 16 strikeouts while allowing just three hits and a walk. 

The junior pitcher retired 10 straight batters and was just an inch away from an immaculate inning in the top of the second. Carr forced a third-pitch ground-out with her first opponent before striking out the next two Grizzlies in three pitches. 

Canyon High School junior Jessica Carr (16) strikes out multiple Golden Valley High School players during their game on Tuesday at Canyon High School. 041624 Katherine Quezada/The Signal

“I felt great today,” Carr said. “I’ve been working on staying accurate and I think today I showed that I can do that pretty well through seven innings … We were trying to limit pitches and get them out as quick as possible without throwing 100 pitches again. I think we were pretty efficient with that.” 

Canyon (12-10-2, 4-5) got enough runs across the plate to secure the much-needed victory but was held in check compared to its previous 14-1 win over Golden Valley (7-15-1, 3-6). 

Sophomore Karina Montero fired out a solo home run to lead off the second inning before the Cowboys sparked a two-out rally. Canyon catcher Jaylynn Sussi brought in junior Amber Phillips with an RBI double before nine-hole hitter Emily Torres brought in Sussi. 

Canyon High School sophomore Karina Montero (10) hits a home run scoring the first point against the Golden Valley High School Grizzlies during their game on Tuesday at Canyon High School. 041624 Katherine Quezada/The Signal

Canyon threatened to score numerous additional runs but ended the day with seven stranded base runners. Golden Valley pitcher Italia Ballestrasse and the Grizzly defense were key in that department. 

Ballestrasse allowed some Canyon bats to get the better of her but buckled down when she needed to most. The senior pitcher started off the fourth inning with a no-out, bases-loaded jam, as the game looked like it would get out of hand. Ballestrasse retired three straight to escape the inning and came up with one of her five strikeouts. The pitcher’s success has been instrumental for Grizzlies coach Mike Rego rebuilding the program. 

Golden Valley High School senior Italia Ballastrasse (88) pitches the ball to the Canyon High School Cowboys during their game on Tuesday at Canyon High School 041624 Katherine Quezada/The Signal

“She pitched well. Italia’s strength is her command and when she can start getting ahead in the count by throwing strikes, then getting batters out by throwing balls, she’s really effective,” Rego said. “That’s what she did. She beared down a little bit and got herself out of those jams. I was pleasantly surprised.” 

Ballestrasse also played well at the plate and was the only Grizzly to reach base twice. 

Golden Valley showed all the positive signs of a program getting ready to end its rebuild and compete in the Foothill League. The young Grizzly team played clean defense, made smart infield reads and throws, while showing some positive signs at the plate against Carr. One more win this season for Golden Valley would make for three straight seasons the team doubled its win totals, showing a positive light on the horizon. 

Canyon High School junior Lainey Rafkin tries to beat Golden Valley High School junior Gabriela Delgado (10) to second base during the game on Tuesday at Canyon High School. 041624 Katherine Quezada/The Signal

“It’s coming together,” Rego said. “I think (catcher and pitcher) will be our biggest positions to fill with Italia. Obviously she’s a good hitter and a good pitcher. We’re certainly gonna put in the work, and if we put in the work, it’ll pay off sooner or later.” 

Phillips and Montero led Canyon with two hits on the day. Montero nearly went yard twice but her second deep shot fell just at the wall, earning the sophomore a double. The top of the Cowboy order went hitless, but Wensley liked what he saw from his fourth through ninth hitters. 

“Sometimes it works out that way,” Wensley said. “You can’t always rely on the top of the lineup. It’s nice to see the bottom of the lineup have a game where they step up.” 

The Canyon High School Cowboys cheer on their teammate, sophomore Karina Montero (10) after hitting a home run during their game versus the Golden Valley High School Grizzlies on Tuesday at Canyon High School. 041624 Katherine Quezada/The Signal

While the offense backed up Carr better in the first win over the Grizzlies this season, the pitcher still improved on an electric performance. Carr increased her strikeout numbers and cut down her walk totals from her first bout with Golden Valley, and according to Wensley, missed maybe six pitches. 

“(Carr) was fantastic,” Wensley said. “She was focused. She knew what the task at hand was today. She took care of business, she was poised and it was awesome to see her just come out like that.” 

Carr was close to losing her shutout in the first inning but sparked a double play on a lineout to take care of her first base runner. 

Canyon has now taken just one loss in its last eight games, a great sign for a team looking to make it back into the postseason. 

Each game will be pivotal for Canyon looking to punch its postseason ticket but the team feels good heading into the final stretch. 

“I think we’re on the way to playoffs,” Carr said.  

The Cowboys will remain at home on Thursday but now take their hot streak into a game with the league champs, Valencia. Golden Valley will hit the road and take on Saugus, which can clinch the second seed in the league with a win. Both games are slated for Thursday at 3:15 p.m. 

Golden Valley High School senior Italia Ballastrasse (88) pitches the ball to the Canyon High School Cowboys during their game on Tuesday at Canyon High School 041624 Katherine Quezada/The Signal

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