Bruins bury Cougars in PVL showdown
LAKE OF THE PINES - Ali Thill turned around at the plate, then turned around a pitch from Haleigh Arthur to break Friday’s Pioneer Valley League softball showdown wide open.
Batting from the left side all season, Bear River’s second baseman changed things up after spring break. The results were impressive as she cracked a two-run triple into the gap in right-center field and the Bruins went on to a 7-1 victory over Center.
The win put Bear River on top in the PVL with a 4-0 record while the Cougars fell to 3-1.
Thill’s big hit was part of a five-run rally in the third inning that gave pitcher Erin Nichol more than enough support.
“That hit felt so good,” Thill said. “I’ve been switching back and forth all season, but I think I know what side I should be hitting from. That hit was the deciding factor for the rest of the season.”
Nichol was brilliant for Bear River. She scattered five hits and snuffed out potential rallies by the Cougars time after time. Center’s potent offense finally plated a run in the sixth on Natalie Hampton’s RBI-single, but Bruins catcher Alyssa Reina picked off a baserunner at second base to end the inning.
Hampton was 2-for-3, upping her batting average to an incredible .658. But the Oregon State-bound senior was a victim of a Reina pickoff throw at second base in the fourth inning and Center was unable to get its offense untracked.
Runs weren’t a problem for the Bruins after they squandered a two-on, one-out situation in the first inning.
Stephanie Ceo roped a triple into center field to lead off the third. Cambria Holcomb’s groundout scored Ceo. Reina re-ignited the rally with a walk. Mackinze Hollister then singled and Nichol followed with a two-run single into right field. Keleigh Casey had a two-out single, then sprinted home on Thill’s triple.
In the fourth, Hollister’s RBI-single made it 6-0 after Reina had ripped a two-out double. The Bruins added one last run in the sixth as Reina’s RBI-single scored Ceo.
Bear River coach Duane Zauner announced earlier this spring he will retire from coaching after 18 years guiding the varsity Bruins. He said seeing his team put all aspects of the game together has been a treat this spring.
“The same things that we weren’t doing at the beginning of the season, now we’re putting it all together,” Zauner said. “After the first inning we did a better job of laying off the high (pitches) and we got a lot of two-out hits.”
Placer 19, Foothill 7 at Sacramento — Junior Brooke Stufflebean stole the show in a game chocked with offensive highlights for the Hillgals.
Stufflebean hit for the cycle, drove in six runs and scored four. In addition to her single, double, triple and home run, Stufflebean was hit by a pitch and walked.
Clair Hansen knocked out four hits and had four RBIs as Placer improved to 3-1 in the Pioneer Valley League. Taylor Hill had two hits and three runs scored, Jenna Knox scored three runs and knocked in three runs along with her work in the pitcher’s circle – five innings, two runs allowed and four strikeouts.
Haley Tupen drew four walks and knocked in two runs while Hailey Leggitt scored two runs.
Placer trailed 5-3 until the fourth inning, in which it scored seven runs and sent 13 batters to the plate. The Hillgals added six runs in the seventh to finish off the Mustangs.