By Steve Ramirez
BALDWIN PARK — The race for the Montview League softball title will likely be a shared championship.
Sierra Vista High School saw to that Tuesday.
Franki Caudillo had three hits and an RBI and was steady in the circle to lead the host Dons to a 6-1 victory over Duarte.
Caudillo tossed a five-hitter and struck out seven for Sierra Vista, which improved 16-4 overall and 12-1 in league play.
Duarte, which beat the Dons, 2-0, on April 11, slipped to 17-4 and 12-1.
Both teams finish the regular season against Azusa and Bassett, respectively, on Thursday. The Aztecs and Olympians began the week tied for fourth with 6-6 league records.
“It was a big game today,” Sierra Vista coach Jerry Osegura said. “The girls really stepped it up. The first time around (Duarte) got us. It put a bad taste in our mouth and the girls worked hard all week.
“We knew today was a different day, and the girls got ‘em.”
Sierra Vista secured the win with a five-run fifth.
Mylene Valencia led off the rally with a single. Marissa De La Torre reached on a sacrifice- fielder’s choice before Brianna Moreno walked with one out to load the bases. Caudillo then hit a ground-ball single to right field for a 1-0 lead. A walk to Melissa Gutierrez made it 2-0 before back-to-back singles by Valeree Hernandez and Marlene Villa pushed it to 4-0.
Gutierrez scoed on a throwing error to make it 5-0.
“I was just hoping it would (be fair),” Caudillo said. “It wasn’t a foul ball, it was inside (the line). It was a good feeling.
“Everything was all positive. You have to have a good feeling, and you have to want it.”
Duarte cut it to 5-1 on a bases-loaded walk to Jada Richards, but the Falcons missed a shot to cut into the deficit even more. Caudillo ended the threat by inducing Mary Rose Magnolia to hit into a force play.
Earlier, the Falcons had a chance to take the lead in the third after putting runners on second and third with one out following a two-base error. But Caudillo got Madelaine Tickey to line out and Alexis Galvez to ground out.
“(Sierra Vista) played a good game and we didn’t execute,” Duarte coach Paul Viteri said. “We had a lot of chances to execute and we just didn’t.
“The name of the game is simple — get on base and when you do, you have to execute, and we didn’t. They did, so give them credit.”
Caudillo wrapped it up in the seventh, getting Galvez to ground into a double play and striking Gabriella Montoya to end it.
By Steve Ramirez