Featured photo by Nick Baker – Buchanan’s Faith Rousey slides safely into second base while Clovis shortstop Tori Mueller waits for the throw.
By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
After the shock of losing the first league game of the season to Clovis East wore off, Clovis regrouped and got down to business.
And sure enough, the defending TRAC and D-1 Central Section champs did what they do best; timely hitting, great defense and superb pitching in winning three games the week of April 25 in beating Buchanan 1-0, Clovis West 14-1 and Clovis East 4-0.
The Cougars (20-3, 5-1) rode their ace, sophomore sensation Danielle Lung, and in the process lifted her team to a tie with Buchanan atop the standings.
Buchanan came into their April 25 game undefeated at 3-0 in league and 15-4 overall.
That game featured Buchanan sophomore pitcher Molly Millar as Clovis made a single run stand up when Emily Puente plated pinch-runner Coryn Chiaramonte with a double in the second inning.
But the game wasn’t without drama, and after being held hitless heading into the seventh inning, Buchanan’s Spencer Sansom and Starr Vang opened with consecutive singles. But Lung quickly extinguished the threat, ending the game on a fly-out to left fielder McKenzie Byrd.
Coach Mike Noel appreciated the style of softball played, a good old fashioned pitchers dual.
“It reminded me of an old school softball game with two really good pitchers, two good defenses and two teams trying to scratch out a run,” said Noel. “We were fortunate to get one early and it held up for us. It was just a really good softball game to be a part of and I’m proud of the way the girls responded.”
There was no way Lung was going to get rattled. After all, she pitched a no-hitter in last year’s Valley championship game as a freshman.
“She doesn’t have to do anything she not capable of because she’s capable of dominating,” says Noel. “We always feel she can get out of it.”
After the 14-1 drubbing of Clovis West (and a 3-run bomb from Jordyn Martinez in the first inning), the attention now turned to Clovis East (16-8, 4-2), who beat Lung 4-2 in eight innings in that first-round game despite 18 strikeouts.
This time, there would be no drama as Lung threw a one-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts, overpowering the young but powerful Timberwolf hitters.
“She (Lung) is going to get her strikeouts,” said Clovis East coach Bryce Kamimoto. “She is a pitcher of high quality and does a good job controlling the game. She got us to put ourselves in bad counts.”
With both Clovis and Buchanan controlling their own destiny, their rematch at Buchanan looms large on May 10, with most likely a TRAC title and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs at stake.
“We like where we’re at, but again, that’s not what matters,” Noel said. “What matters to us, is the next game, the next at-bat, the next pitch. We’re happy about our position, but we’re more excited about what’s in front of us.”
Buchanan 6 Clovis North 0
Molly Millar struck out 10 in a complete game victory and Spencer Sansom went 3-4 with a triple and a home run and three RBI.
Clovis East 12 Central 0
Freshman Taja Felder got the pitching victory as Syrena Garcia went 3-4 with 2 RBI, Mya Felder 2-3 with 2 RBI and Emilee Lear 2-2 with 2 RBI.
Clovis 14 Clovis West 1
Danielle Lung struck out nine and Alyssa Caballero went 3-5 with 3 RBI, Jordyn Martinez 2-4 with a home run and 2 RBI and Emily Puente 2-4 with 2 RBI.
Buchanan 10 Central 0
Molly Millar threw her second consecutive shutout, striking out eight. Sienna Swain went 2-3 with 2 runs and 2 RBI and Katie Jackson went 3-3 with 2 runs.
Clovis North 4 Clovis West 3
The Broncos scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Sarah Ballinger the win. McKenzie Everhart went 3-4 for Clovis North and Cassidy Clark went 2-2 with a home run for Clovis West.
Clovis 4 Clovis East 0
Danielle Lung improved to 17-2 with a one-hitter and 13 strikeouts. Grace Henson hit an RBI double and Tori Mueller went 2-3 with a run and RBI.