Emily Puente popped up out of bed on April 27 knowing something special was on the horizon.
And for good reason: her Clovis Cougars were playing rival Buchanan and, almost as equally important, it was her birthday.
A movie script couldn’t have been more perfectly written as the power hitting senior launched a two-run home run in a five-run fourth inning, propelling Clovis to an 8-1 win over rival Buchanan with the help of strong pitching from ace Danielle Lung, who struck out seven in the complete game win.
“It’s amazing, definitely a perfect day,” Puente said on her 18th birthday. “I’m very proud of my team.”
And the cherry on top? Puente’s sophomore sister, Allie, also put one over the fence, a three-run blast just three batters after older sister, bolstering their lead to an insurmountable 8-0 lead.
Clovis, ranked No. 5 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 23 in the nation by MaxPreps, improved to 23-2 on the season and 6-0 in league. Buchanan, ranked No. 19 in the state, fell to 20-4 and 5-1.
The Puente family genes obviously run strong, as does a healthy dose of sibling rivalry; both came in to the game tied for the team lead in home runs along with senior Jordyn Martinez.
“It was neat – those are big plays in softball,” Cougars coach Mike Noel said of the sisters’ home runs. “It’s good for momentum and it really can generate a lot of excitement. We are lucky to have three or four girls who can do that.”
And about that hitting, well, there’s more than meets the eye, at least with Emily.
Puente uses a bat with a light green handle and calls the piece of metal she uses to smash home runs “Kiwi.” And it doesn’t stop there – her favorite song at the moment is “Kiwi” by Harry Styles and she sings the song while she’s at bat, not before or after but while the ball is in flight.
Puente says the singing helps her relax, taking the idea from a University of Auburn player.
The run support was more than enough for Lung, one of the top pitchers in the state. The Fresno State-bound senior improved to 18-0 on the season, allowing one run and only three hits.
Lung was matched up against Stanford signee Molly Millar for the second time this season, Round 1 also went to the Cougars 5-2 on April 10.
Clovis got on the board with two runs in the first on Jenna Scarborough’s bases loaded single to right field and freshman Maddie Arnold’s infield single.
“When you’re facing a really good pitcher, it’s huge,” Noel said about getting those two early runs. “We don’t think we ever relax but it’s good to take a breath when you score two runs. Most teams don’t score two off of Danielle so you feel good about things.”
During league, Clovis has outscored opponents 38-4. In addition, on April 13, Lung threw a no-hitter against Clovis East in a 10-0 win.
“We certainly are happy with where we are at right now but we are not satisfied,” Noel said. “The girls want to be great and want to be special. I like that about our group.”