Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Madera senior Aaliyah Cuevas crashes into the left field fence to take away a potential home run against Rancho on Friday.
EASTON — After suffering through two tough losses, the Madera Coyotes softball team closed out the Washington Union Softball Invitational with a pair of victories heading into the first week of conference play.
The Coyotes lost on a walk-off in their first game Friday, but came back to hold onto a 10-9 victory over Righetti-Santa Maria before getting an 11-0 victory over Pioneer Valley-Santa Maria to win the tournament’s Consolation Championship.
“When you look at our progress, last year to this year, we have a completely new infield,” head coach Judy Shaubach said. “They are starting to play better and gel together. (Gennahlyn) Sanchez picked up her play in this tournament, defensively. We made some really nice plays. Last year, we lost focus in the fourth or fifth inning. This year, it’s the seventh inning. This team has got to continue to grow and finish games.”
Three of Madera’s five losses have been by one run, two on walk-offs. Madera opened County/Metro Athletic Conference play Tuesday at Sanger and hosts Bullard today at 3:30 p.m.
“Our team chemistry was much better in this tournament,” Shaubach said. “We have people figuring out their roles. We have players pushing players. When we had players come off the bench, they did a great job. Heaven (Ramirez) gave us some quality at bats. (Sofia) Perez got some good at-bats and got an inning in the mound.
“Our outfielders were making great plays. We have to continue to grow and get better. There is a time to peak. We’re not there. Right now we have to work to get better.”
The Coyotes were one of the better teams on defense, getting significant contributions from shortstop Sanchez to second baseman Layne. However, it was Madera’s outfielders who stole the show. They took away three possible home runs with catches at the tournament’s breakable fences.
Rancho 1, Madera 0
With a chance to place second in the pool, the Coyotes only mustered three hits in a walk-off loss to Rancho-Las Vegas on Friday.
While the Coyotes’ offense was stymied by Rancho pitcher Samantha Pochop, who struck out 12 batters, Madera’s Kaylee Dawson allowed just two hits and struck out six to pick up the loss.
“We’re getting runners on base,” Shaubach said. “I thought we didn’t have good pitch selections Friday. We were hitting balls out of the strike zone when we should have been taking. We have to get back to practice and fix the things we can fix to move forward.”
Madera had its best chance to score in the top of the first inning. Taylor Brooks struck out, but reached on a passed ball. Layne forced Brooks at second for the first out.
Aaliyah Cuevas singled to left to put runners at first and second with one out. However, Haley Perez lined out to Pochop and doubled up Cuevas at second.
In the seventh, Lili Gutierrez lifted a fly ball to left field. Cuevas crashed into the fence and made the catch for the first out of the inning.
However, a walk and a single up the middle put runners at first and third with one out. In a squeeze situation, Rancho executed to perfection for a 1-0 victory.
Madera 11, Righetti 9
The Coyotes jumped out to an 8-1 lead, but Righetti scored three runs in the third and five more in the fifth before the game ended because of time with the Coyotes nursing the lead.
Sanchez led the Coyotes with five RBIs with two home runs from the No. 9 spot in the line-up.
Felicity Rocha picked up the win in the circle. Kaylee Dawson came in relief of Perez to get the final two outs of the fifth for the save.
Righetti’s first three hits of the game were home runs.
Trailing 1-0 in the second, the Coyotes scored four runs in the second. Hollee Brown started the rally with a one-out single. Ruiz singled and Rocha singled home Brown to tie the game. Sanchez singled to left to drive in another run. Brooks reached on an infield single to score pinch-runner Brooke Gill while Brooks scored on an error.
Madera started another rally in the third. With one out, Perez singled and pinch-runner Josslynn Davis went to second on a wild pitch. Brown singled and Ruiz reached on an error to drive in Davis and Brown.
After a strikeout, Sanchez launched the first of her two homes runs to deep center for an 8-1 lead.
Righetti responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to 8-4.
Madera added two more runs in the fifth after a Perez single and a Sanchez line drive home run over the left field fence for a 10-4 lead.
However, Righetti didn’t go away. They strung together three singles with a walk and an error to score five runs and cut Madera’s lead to one.
Madera 11, Pioneer Valley 0
The Coyotes made quick work of Pioneer Valley, scoring four runs in the fourth and seven in the third to record a four-inning 11-0 victory to win the consolation championship Saturday.
In a game lasting just over an hour, the Coyotes banged out 11 hits and pitcher Dawson allowed just two for the win.
Layne, Cuevas and Perez each had three hits for the Coyotes.
With one out in the first, Layne singled and Cuevas hit the second pitch she saw over the center field fence for her first home run of the season. It was her eighth home run in her career to move her into sole possession of third place all-time.
Perez started another rally with a double down the left field line. Pinch-runner Kailie Gutierrez scored on a Heaven Ramirez single.
After Ruiz forced Ramirez at second, she stole second and scored on a Perez single for a 4-0 lead.
The Coyotes sent 11 batters to the plate in the third inning for a seven-run rally.