Although it was a bit odd for the top-seeded Buchanan Bears softball team to open against a fellow Tri-River Athletic Conference opponent in Central-Fresno, the Bears focused on their game and came away with a 4-0 win at home in the first round of CIF Division I Central Section playoffs.
It took some scratching and clawing, but a win is a win and the Bears are moving on.
“I thought going in and seeing the seeding, that there should be no way we are playing Central in the first round, but that’s how they drew it up,” Buchanan head coach Dean Gregory said. “I was proud of our girls for scratching a run across and then getting some insurance. They did a good job tonight.”
The Bears were able to score a few runs off a strong pitching performance from the Grizzlies, but Michelle Kroell starred as the senior tossed a complete-game shutout, only allowing two hits.
“Michelle came in and threw a great game for us,” Gregory said.
Coming into the game, the Bears were 2-0 against the Grizzlies, outscoring their opponents 15-1. But in the first round of the CIF Division I playoffs, the Grizzlies came out fighting. Whether out in the field or at the plate, Central gave everything they had.
But, the top-seeded Bears only needed one inning to do their damage.
After four innings of tough sledding, the Bears finally found a crack in the Grizzlies defense. Two big hits by Emily Cazares and Claire Raley gave Buchanan life in the bottom of the fifth inning. Cazares was a matter of feet away from a lead-off home run to right field, but the Central outfield was up to the task.
Raley on the other hand found the same part of the park, but this time her hit dropped off the wall. She rounded second and on her way to third, the Grizzlies mishandled the ball, allowing Raley to race all the way home.
Buchanan took a 1-0 lead behind a triple and error.
After a hit by Avery Lawley and a walk by Jordyn Boel, Marissa Fondtain brought both Bears home to push the lead 3-0 behind another Central error.
Buchanan had a 3-0 lead, but they weren’t finished in the bottom of the fifth inning. Rachel Kessler stepped up to the plate and tripled home Fondtain for the Bears fourth and final run of the game.
Despite the early struggles, the top seed in Division I battled and focused on what got them there for a gritty opening win.
The Bears now turn their attention to Paso Robles in the next round on Thursday.