Behind a dominant pitching performance from Michelle Kroell and three hits from Claire Buckley, the Buchanan Bears softball team outlasted the Clovis High Cougars 4-2 in a Tri-River Athletic Conference showdown at Buchanan.
Kroell took the bump and never left, following a complete game performance. She allowed only six hits and a single earned run, while striking out five. Kroell’s ability to pound the zone, but also keep the Cougars off balance turned out to be the story of the game.
“She was great. She’s been good all year and she keeps getting better and better. She won us this game and she is a competitor, I’m really proud of her,” Buchanan head coach Dean Gregory said.
While Buchanan’s pitching seemed unhittable at times, the Bears lineup showed how strong they can be. The Cougars had only allowed a single run in TRAC play through five games and that run came in a 2-1 win against Buchanan.
Clovis shutout Clovis North, Clovis West, Central and Clovis East, but Buchanan had some success — albeit slim.
But this time around, the Bears were ready for round two.
Four different Bears collected an RBI in the bottom of the second inning: Buckley, sophomore Faith James, sophomore Clarie Raley and Kailyne Luna. Both Raley and Buckley doubled in the game and combined for five hits as well.
The Bears did enough to beat a stingy Cougars team. Four runs on 10 hits, isn’t the best production, but a win is a win. The Bears stand at 5-1 in the TRAC and 16-2 overall.
“The other day at practice we worked on being aggressive at the plate on pitches that we could hit and staying off their good pitches. They did that pretty much all night,” Gregory said. “We had three innings in a row with bases loaded and didn’t score them, so we could’ve broken it open, but I’m happy we scored the four in the one inning.”
The Cougars on the other hand kept the game close but couldn’t find the chances in the end. In the top of the fourth, Clovis rallied for two runs off the bat of sophomore Caitlin Decanio.
Decanio hit a fastball into deep center field. The ball dropped in front of the wall, allowing two Cougars to score.
Clovis cut the deficit to two but couldn’t muster anything else. Kroell shook off the inning and fired three more shutout innings to seal the deal for Buchanan, avenging its sole loss in the TRAC back in March.
Despite the loss, Clovis still share the first-place position in the TRAC with Buchanan at 5-1.