In its last two Central California Athletic Alliance games, the Elliot Christian High softball team scored a combined 42 runs.
Fast-forward to Tuesday’s home against the Stone Ridge Christian squad, the Eagles were within striking distance of the visiting Knights. But Stone Ridge Christian, which only had one hit after two innings, busted out for more than a dozen for a 20-1 win over Elliot (2-2 in the CCAA, 3-2). The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run rule.
“We were overmatched,” said Elliot Christian coach Mike Pontius. “I had two girls out here playing in the outfield who bought their first gloves after our first practice. This is their fifth game — ever. I’m not talking about high school.”
After Stone Ridge Christian (3-0 in the CCAA, 10-5) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Elliot responded in its first at-bat. Leadoff hitter Bailey Correia powered the ball deep into center field for a triple. A batter later, Correia, without hesitation, slid into home plate on a passed ball for the Eagles’ only run of the game and a 3-1 score.
Then the Knights took control after the second inning.
In the top of the third, Stone Ridge had four hits, with doubles from Emma Eastman and Brooke Wareham. That led to the Knights increasing their lead to 6-1.
Moving to the top of the fourth, the Knights sent 11 batters to the plate. The results were six runs off eight hits. Wareham had two of those hits; a single to right field in her first at-bat and beat out an infield single. Sydney Shaw, along with Knight teammates Caitlyn Cole and Hannah Nelson, each had a double. The offensive explosion led to Stone Ridge leading 12-1.
Entering the fifth inning, Stone Ridge had eight hits again — Cole and Shaw each had two hits — plus a triple off the bat of Nelson. The Knights also benefited from two Eagle errors — both in the infield and throwing on grounders. That led to eight runs and a 20-1 lead. Stone Ridge had 21 hits in the game.
In the circle, Eastman struck out 14 Eagle batters, which included eight consecutive. Correia, who is going to Holy Names University in Oakland on a scholarship, broke up Eastman’s strikeouts with a deep fly ball to center for an out in the third.
“She’s a college-level pitcher,” said Pontius of Eastman and his players facing her. “As you watched out there, every single one of them, at least, tried to swing; not backing out.”
Katie Pettersen had the Eagles’ second hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth; a bouncing single into right field. But Eastman struck out the next three Elliot batters to win the game.
“My girls competed,” Pontius said. “Katie got a hit, which was really impressive. I’m proud of the team because they competed against long odds.”
Samantha Tucker, a freshman, occupied the circle for the Eagles from start to finish. Pontius liked how Tucker kept her composure and enthusiasm in the game. She struck out seven Knight batters.
“She’s a strong girl,” said Pontius of Tucker. “The best thing about her is her attitude. We had so many errors, but she doesn’t pout; she just goes and throws it again.”
Last week, Elliot defeated Venture Academy 22-4 and 20-1 in CCAA games.
Elliot plays Stone Ridge again in Merced on Thursday.
Contact Mike Bush at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.