After years of futility against its arch-rival, the visiting Ponderosa softball team defeated the host Oak Ridge Lady Trojans 6-4 in the “Pink Zone” for just their fifth win against the Trojans in the last eight years.
“It feels great, knowing that they’ve dominated us for so long, to come in here and beat them in their park,” pitcher Paris Hallums said after the Lady Bruins completed their season sweep of the Trojans in the annual Susan G. Komen game.
Ponderosa got on the board early and often. Batting against Christina Arace, Rachel Timberman and Natalie Kessing singled and advanced to second and third on a Taylor Eilders groundout. Gina Bilotta doubled to left-center, knocking both runs in. Two pitches later, Missy Silviera singled, and Bilotta scampered around to score.
After Silviera stole second, she scored on a Katie McDavid single, chasing Arace after she allowed four runs on five hits in a third of an inning. Alyssa Burns came in as relief for Arace, and induced a groundout and fly out to stop the bleeding.
Hallums, who shut the Lady Trojans out through six innings, breezed through the early part of Oak Ridge’s lineup in the bottom of the first. After Jackie Schmaeling grounded out, Hallums struck out Renee Bardini and Lauren Bertoy to end the inning.
Roni Greene singled to start the visitor’s half of the second but was tagged out for a double play after Timberland lined to first. Oak Ridge got out of the inning as Kessing, who hit a rocket to left field, was thrown out at third by Jessica Burgess trying to stretch the double into a triple as Ponderosa came up empty.
Jade Matsumoto singled to begin the bottom of the second for Oak Ridge, but was caught stealing, and Hallums struck out Caitlyn Olan looking and Lindsey Zito swinging to end the inning.
After an Eilders groundout to start out the Bruin half of the inning, Bilotta reached on an infield single, and stole second base. But Burns shut the door on Ponderosa, getting a flyout and a groundout to strand Bilotta at second.
Oak Ridge had a great opportunity to score in the bottom of the third when Burgess doubled to jumpstart the inning. After Jade Mercadel struck out, Burgess advanced to third as Burns bounced out. Schmaeling drew a walk and took second on defensive indifference, but it amounted to nothing as Renee Bardini struck out swinging to leave two on the bases.
Burns breezed through the top of the fourth, generating three consecutive popouts to bring the Trojan bats back up but they couldn’t capitalize. After Bertoy flied out, Matsumoto walked. Olan grounded into a fielder’s choice before Zito popped out as Oak Ridge went down with another donut on the scoreboard.
Ponderosa nabbed some insurance runs in the top of the fifth. Following a Timberman single and Kessing walk, Eilders singled to load the bases. Bilotta then singled to right field, driving in Timberman. Silviera whacked another single, scoring Kessing, but Eilders was tagged out at third. Burns avoided a huge inning, coercing two groundouts to end the threat.
Oak Ridge looked like they were going to break through in the bottom of the fifth. After Burgess and Mercadel singled to start the inning, Burns laid down a sacrifice bunt and the runners advanced to second and third. Schmaeling, with an opportunity to knock in two runs on a base hit, swung at a pitch out of the strike zone and rolled it to Hallums who held the runners and made the play at first. With two outs, a strikeout ended the Oak Ridge threat.
Burns got through the top of the sixth inning without much trouble. After Shasta Stinson singled, Greene popped out to the pitcher for a double play. Timberman popped out and Oak Ridge came up in the bottom of the sixth.
Hallums matched Burns’ impressive top of the sixth, using only seven pitches to get out of the inning, as Bertoy popped out, Matsumoto grounded out and Olan struck out swinging.
After Kessing was hit by a pitch, Eilders flew out, Bilotta grounded out, and Silviera struck out swinging, bringing Oak Ridge up in the bottom of the seventh looking for a rally.
After Zito hit an infield single, Burgess reached on Timberman’s fielding error. Mercadel struck out looking but Nicole Martin loaded the bases after Hallums misplayed a ball. As Arace was re-inserted into the game as a pinch runner for Martin, Schmaeling doubled to left-center, scoring Zito and Burgess. After a strikeout, Bertoy doubled, scoring Arace and Schmaeling to make it a 6-4 game. Hallums induced Matsumoto to pop out to end the game.
“It got a little tense there at the end, but I’m really proud of how we played today. It was a collective team effort,” Ponderosa coach Dwayne Brekke said.
The Lady Bruins (12-6 overall, 5-2 league) beat El Camino 11-6 Saturday, and played Cordova afterwards. Oak Ridge (5-15 overall, 2-5 league) next plays Tuesday at Pleasant Grove.