By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN, twitter.com/sgvtribpreps
Azusa High School pitcher Marissa Chavez survived inning after inning against two-time Montview League champion Duarte before the Falcons softball team finally got to her in the seventh.
After giving up a leadoff hit to Guadalupe Valdez, the Falcons’ Gaby Avina sacrificed-bunted Valdez to second and a strikeout later, Brianna Lopez belted a go-ahead two-out double to left to bring in Valdez.
Lopez later scored on a wild pitch and that was all the Falcons needed to squeeze out a 2-0 victory to improve to 10-2 and 5-0 in league.
Duarte is the seventh-ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5.
“She’s (Lopez) been there and done that before,” Falcons coach Paul Viteri. “I expect that from her. She hit a line drive-out to third that could have gone for extra bases earlier, so she was due.”
Chavez only allowed three hits, but she had to battle out of trouble several times.
After an error and consecutive hit batters loaded the bases in the third inning, the Aztecs got out of it with an inning-ending double play.
Chavez walked two straight to open the fourth but answered with back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out to get out of the inning.
Duarte’s Mikayla Tickey couldn’t score after a one-out double in the fifth and the Aztecs escaped the sixth with another double play after putting runners on with a walk and hit batter.
Azusa dropped to 4-2 and 3-1 in the Montview.
“She (Chavez) was our closer last year and has taken on the starting role and has done a fabulous job,” Aztecs coach Lisa Montes said. “We couldn’t of asked for more from her, she did a great job. I just wish we could have scored a few runs for her.”
For Viteri, it was only a matter of time before they punched a run across after squandering so many opportunities.
“You have to give Azusa credit, they graduated a lot of players and they came to play today,” Viteri said. “We hit the ball hard but they made some plays out there. We know we’re a better hitting team than this, but as they game wore on, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves.
Fortunately for the Falcons, pitcher Kaysie Gatlin was steady, scattering five hits in her complete game shutout.
“We worked on a game plan for our hitting because she’s (Gatlin) all about hitting her spots,” Montes said. “We just didn’t execute it. We worked really hard, it’s just unfortunate. She hit her spots and we couldn’t make contact and when we did we popped it up.”