The Clovis East girls’ softball team (3-17) was searching for its first conference win against the Clovis North Broncos (13-4-1) at Bronco Diamond on April 11.
To the Timberwolves’ dismay, the Broncos would not surrender a single run, winning the contest with a 4-0 final score.
In what started as a defensive showcase, both teams struggled to string multiple hits together, as the teams’ defenses looked nearly impenetrable.
Clovis East struggled against Broncos junior starting pitcher Alyssa Orr in the first couple of innings, with just one hit in the first before the side was retired in order in the second.
But it was in the third inning when the Timberwolves’ starting pitcher, freshman Gianna Quintanar, intentionally walked Broncos catcher Elizabeth Moffitt to bring Orr to the batter’s box that the gave Orr some momentum.
The Clovis North pitcher was not an easy out.
She laid down a single to keep the inning going, and although nothing would come of the rally — the Timberwolves would retire the next batter to end the inning — the base hit seemed to give Orr and the Broncos a boost of confidence.
In the following inning, Orr would strike out the first two batters she faced, and after surrendering a base-hit single, ended the inning with a fly out to left field.
The defense behind Orr kept the Timberwolves out of rhythm and kept the pressure off of the Broncos’ starter. Fly balls seemed to find Bronco gloves wherever they fell.
But Clovis North still struggled to get its offense going.
That is, until the bottom of the fifth, when freshman shortstop Kaylee Grealy hit a home run over the deep part of center field to put the Broncos up 1-0.
The Timberwolves had a chance to answer with a run of their own in the top of the sixth, as a base hit from Quintanar seemed enough to bring home a baserunner from second, but a strong throw in from Clovis North center fielder McKenzie Everhart cut down the threat at home for the third out.
That would be the closest Clovis East would come to catching the runaway Broncos, whose offense came alive in the bottom half of the sixth inning.
Orr reached base again for the Broncos, this time on a ball-four wild pitch that sailed to the backstop, allowing the leadoff batter to not only reach first safely but turn the corner and advance to second before the Timberwolves could recover.
With the table set and no outs, the Broncos bats started to hunt. After another wild pitch allowed Orr to advance to third, Clovis East called for a new pitcher, bringing junior Anna Coil to the mound to replace Quintanar.
But the damage was only just beginning.
Another walk would put junior Morgan Moffitt on first base. Moffitt was later caught in a rundown between first and second, but the runner held the Timberwolves’ attention long enough for Orr to reach home from third.
The Broncos’ rally wasn’t over yet, as senior Natasha Ochoa would line a ball over the third baseman’s glove later in the inning for a two-RBI stand-up double, putting the Broncos up 4-0.
Orr returned to the mound in the seventh to earn her sixth strikeout of the night and finish the game with a shutout.
After the game, Clovis North head coach Courtney Dale said she was proud of the way Orr was working her pitches and getting ahead in the count.
She also said the team was hitting the ball hard, and the their persistence led to success the second and third times through the lineup.
“We were consistent on defense and had good at-bats at the plate,” Dale said. “And our pitching was really solid tonight. I’m proud of them.”
The Broncos are now 3-3 in Tri-River Athletic Conference (TRAC) play. Clovis East sits at the bottom of the conference with a 0-6 TRAC record.