SOFTBALL: Temple City survives

Rams hold off Spartans, increase league lead to 1 1/2

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Above: Temple City pitcher Kaitlin Ellingsworth is helped off the field after being hit by a line drive during the third inning. She remained in the game and played at first base. (Staff photo Keith Birmingham)

By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
TEMPLE CITY – Ordinarily, a game with first-place ramifications could be expected to be a thing of beauty.
Friday’s Rio Hondo League battle between Temple City and La Canada high schools, with a share of first place at stake, arguably could be described as a matter of survival.
While the game boasted some key hits and nifty fielding, it was far from pretty to a purist.
From a competitive standpoint, though, the Rams wouldn’t be outdone as they outlasted the Spartans 5-3.
“I told them after the game that they’re not playing like they want to, but it’s a long season and they have to refocus and put it back together again,” Temple City coach Bob Ellingsworth said.
Temple City (15-4-1, 7-1) won its seventh consecutive league contest since a 1-0 home loss to the Spartans March 14, and took a 1 1/2-game lead with four to play.
With three league games left, La Ca ada (10-6, 6-3) finds itself in need of some help to get back into the title hunt.
“We’re not counting on them falling back and it’s in their hands,” La Canada coach K.C. Mathews said.
Both teams had their troubles in the field. Temple City committed four errors; the Spartans had three.
“We made too many mistakes,” Mathews said. “When we beat them earlier in the year, we played a clean game, and that’s what it’s going to take to beat a team like Temple City.”
Senior left-hander Kaitlin Ellingsworth (9-3) pitched the first three innings for Temple City and allowed four hits and one run to earn the victory.
She had to move to first, though, in the fourth when Amanda Ulf hit a hard shot off her leg to end the third.
Rams senior Melissa Vega came on and worked the final four innings. Vega allowed two unearned runs on no hits and struck out two for her sixth save.
“She’s tough,” Bob Ellingsworth said. “You see the lefty and then you have to adjust to her. She knows where to put her pitches and gets a lot of movement on her ball. She does very well.”
Added Vega: “I wasn’t really nervous at all and I knew my defense was behind me.”
Temple City did quite well early by pushing three runs across in the first inning off Spartans freshman pitcher Lauren O’Leary (5-2).
Jessica Kosharek drove in the first run with a single. Ashley Perez later scored on a fielding error. Kosharek, who was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, later crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice.
Back-to-back doubles by Lucy Filippone and Abby Ulf in the second inning cut Temple City’s lead to 3-1.
Kelsey Hardwick’s run-producing single to left field in the fourth gave the Rams a three-run cushion, but La Canada came right back with two runs on a pair of Temple City miscues to pull within a run at 4-3.