By Nathan Cambridge, Correspondent
LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE – San Marino’s Michelle Floyd hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning and then set down La Canada in order in the bottom of the inning to seize a 3-2 victory in a battle of Rio Hondo League softball rivals Friday night.
The result snapped a 29-game La Ca ada winning streak. The Spartans had also won 17 straight in league.
“Tonight was our night and tonight the girls played a great game,” San Marino coach Nick Schepperie said. “You can’t say enough about Michelle Floyd. She was fabulous. She commanded the strike zone. She dominated the strike zone.”
Going into the game, the host Spartans (6-1, 1-1), the reigning CIF-SS Division 5 champions, had not lost a Rio Hondo League game since the 2010 season. But that unbeaten streak was ended by San Marino on Friday night and the winning pitcher was once again Floyd, who had also defeated La Ca nada, 2-0, back on April 30, 2010 during her freshman year.
“We wanted this game so bad,” Floyd said, “Our whole week we have been preparing and pumping up for this game. I’m so proud of my team right now … This is really one of the best feelings ever.”
On Friday night, Floyd struck out 11 and earned her eighth win of the season.
“She is who she is. She is 6-foot-4. She is dominant,” said Schepperie, whose team is now the only squad without a loss in Rio Hondo League play.
San Marino (8-4, 3-0) trailed 2-1 after six innings, with the Spartans needing just three outs to seal the victory and continue their winning streak.
Taryn Converse drew the only walk of the game issued by Spartans pitcher Lauren Cox to lead off the seventh. Floyd followed and smashed the first pitch high into the air, but foul down the left-field side, with the ball landing far beyond the fence and bouncing away through the walkways of the campus buildings. On the next pitch the junior straightened it out and lined the ball over the temporary fence in center field for a home run, giving the Titans their first lead since the first inning.
“Honestly, all I could think of was I wanted to hit that ball so bad,” Floyd said of the Cox offering she hit out. “I just wanted that hit. I just wanted that run. Taryn was set up on first base. I saw it and all I could think of was I’ve got to hit this now.”
Floyd then returned to the circle and struck out the first Spartans batter of the seventh inning. She handled a comebacker off the bat of Brenna Gay for the second out and Jessica Ogden ended the game with a groundout.
“What a fabulous job and then to come out with the jitters of it all in the seventh inning knowing you are up one run and to shut down a great (team),” Schepperie said. “They are the defending champions. They are still the team to beat and we played a great game and we deserved to win today.”
Cox gave up a home run to Titans leadoff batter Alexis Watanabe, who hit the second pitch of the game over the center-field fence. After that the senior did not allow the next 17 Titan batters to reach base until Watanabe legged out an infield single with two out in the sixth inning. In that span between hits Cox struck out 13, including the side in the second inning.
She finished with 15 strikeouts, including two straight to end the seventh after she had yielded the Floyd home run.
“We knew we had two great pitchers going tonight and I thought both showed very well,” La Canada coach KC Mathews said.
Both teams wore special uniforms for the contest to honor the spirit of the American Cancer Society, for which the game also served as a fundraiser. The Titans were clad in white with pink stirrups and the Spartans donned pink with black numbers.
La Canada junior Jessica Ogden had the original idea to expand the evening beyond the sport on the field.
“The girls battled really hard. I know about the Burbank-Burroughs rivalry, the UCLA-USC games, but this was huge,” Schepperie said, “It’s all they talk about all week. I’m so proud of them.”