By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
LA CANADA — There was little time to notice the glaring absence in Flintridge Prep’s softball lineup.
By the time Denise Van der goot checked into the game in the fourth inning her teammates had done all the heavy lifting with an explosive five-run first inning that fueled the Rebels to a 9-2 Prep League win over Rio Hondo Prep on Tuesday.
The game had an unusual late start (4:45) because of advanced placement testing at both schools. Van der goot, a senior, took an A.P. art history test that started at 1 and ended four hours later. She was the lone Flintridge Prep (11-3, 8-1) player who had a schedule conflict.
It didn’t take long for the Rebels to jump ahead. Flintridge Prep, which now sits in the driver’s seat for the league title, capitalized on three wild pitches and an error in the first inning to take a 5-0 lead.
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Senior third baseman Abbey Deckop led the way for the Rebels going 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Fellow senior Alina Okamoto got things started with an RBI double to center that scored Kelly Wang, who drew a walk to lead off the inning. Deckop’s RBI single scored Ashley Kim, who got on because of an error. Then Kim scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
A Rachel Simon sacrifice fly scored Deckop to make it 4-0 and a Maya Okamoto ground out scored Chelsea Johnson, who singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and stole third base.
That was all the run support the Rebels needed.
Rio Hondo Prep’s Charley Parker struggled with her command and was stymied by five wild pitches that advanced runners on the base paths. She gave up six earned runs and eight hits in the loss.
“They came out hitting the ball really well,” Rio Hondo Prep coach Joe Parker said. “”Unfortunately we didn’t mix up our pitches very well and (Charley Parker) got hit pretty hard. Our fielding wasn’t that great either, so (it) kind of let us down a little bit.”
It was the Kares’ first game since beating Marshall on April 21.
“And that makes a big difference,” Parker said. “We caught Mayfield on their Easter break too and it just happens. That’s the way this league is set up with the breaks nowadays.”
Van der goot and starting pitcher Caitlin Gillman combined for nine strikeouts. Gillman gave up two earned runs when Rio Hondo Prep’s Charley Parker connected on a two-run home run to left field in the third inning, which scored Kalli Bray who singled up the middle.
By then, the Rebels had taken a considerable lead.
“It was huge,” Flintridge Prep coach Julie Jaime said. “Caitlin did a great job setting the tone, keeping base runners off early, and to come out offensively what we did off a good pitcher was nice.
“It was nice that it wasn’t one person, it was through the lineup with some good base running.”
Deckop’s two-run single in the second scored Alina Okamoto and Kim. The Rebels capitalized on Rio Hondo Prep’s five errors, evident in the third when Simon, who led off with a single, scored on an error. Kim got on with an error in the sixth and scored on another error to cap the Rebels’ scoring.
Deckop credited the Rebels’ improvement running the base paths that paved the way for a victory.
“There was some confusion (before),” Deckop said. “But it was more like getting the rust off where we were just not as aggressive. I wouldn’t think of stealing. I would shiver when I got the steal sign.”