By Aram Tolegian
The Bishop Amat High School softball team’s bid for a perfect season in the Del Rey League standings came to a sobering end on Thursday afternoon. St. Joseph, behind a strong performance from pitcher Maxine Rodriguez, got the clutch outs when it needed them most to post a 2-1 win that didn’t change the complexion of the standings, but did give the Lancers a rude wake-up call heading into next week’s playoffs. (To continue click thread).
“That’s probably one of the best pitchers we’ll see all year,” Amat coach Jesse Mendez said of Rodriguez. “And even still, our girls adjusted. We hit the ball well, but we didn’t string hits together. Even until our last out, I really thought we had a great opportunity to win this game.”
The Lancers fell to 21-3 overall and 10-1 in league with one game to play. Amat had already clinched the league championship before Thursday’s game with St. Joseph in second place at 16-7-1 overalll and 8-2 in league.
The Lancers had runners in scoring position in their final four at-bats. Their best chance came in the bottom of the fourth with Brandy Galaviz laid down a squeeze bunt trying to score Amanda Sanchez from third.
Unfortunately for Amat, the ball stayed right in front of home plate and Sanchez was easily tagged out to end the inning.
“If that bunt goes six inches one way or the other, we score and tie the game,” Mendez said. “It’s one of those woulda, coulda, shoulda happened games.”
Failing to cash in scoring opportunities is something Amat has rarely done this season. The Lancers lead the Del Rey League by a wide margin in runs scored with 147.
“It was really uncharacteristic,” Mendez said of his team’s inability to score on Thursday. “We usually cash those in. But I’ll tell you what, I still like our chances with our bats anytime.”
Amat, perhaps feeling some senior day jitters, fell behind 2-0 in the first inning. Pitcher Natalie Sanchez settled in after that and held the Jesters down, but the only support she got was Alma Cortez’s run on a passed ball in the second inning.
Down to its final out, Amat threatened again in the bottom of the seventh after Victoria Saucedo gave the Lancers with a double. St. Joseph shaded its outfield to the left with Katie Cunningham and the move paid off when Cunningham sent a shot down the left-field line that otherwise would’ve been a hit but was caught to end the game.