Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Jessie Maciel scores in the first inning during Monday’s 8-6 loss to the Merced Bears.
Opening game nerves got to the Madera South softball team’s defense and the Stallions had an uphill battle the rest of the way in an 8-6 loss at Madera South to the Merced Bears.
The Bears scored five runs in the first inning Monday. However, four of the runs were unearned with three Madera South errors.
“It think it was first game nerves,” head coach Peter Gallegos said.
Despite the deficit, the Stallions battled back to take the lead in the fourth inning, but a home run from Merced’s No. 8 batter gave the Bears the lead back in the win.
“They are working hard and playing well,” Gallegos said. “It’s about the team camaraderie we’re tying to build. I’m proud of their hard work and effort.”
Erica Valdez came in relief of starter A.J. Martinez. She got the Stallions out of the first and held the Bears scoreless through the next three innings before allowing the home run in the fifth and get the loss.
Taylor Valerio came in relief of Valdez. She allowed an inherited run to score, but retired five of the final six batters in order to keep the Stallions in the game.
“With more time of them pitching with more batters, they are going to be all right,” Gallegos said of his pitching staff.
Valerio led the Stallions with three hits. Jessie Maciel had two hits. Savaanah Garcia hit a triple and Kaylee Nevarez hit a double for the offense.
In the first inning, Merced’s Jewels Perez, who was 3-for-4, led off with a double. After a sacrifice, she came around to score on an error. After another double drove in a run, the Stallions committed two more errors and five runs scored, although four were unearned.
Valdez allowed baserunners in each inning she pitched, but got out of it without any damage in three of them.
Madera South came right back with three runs in the botom of the first inning. Garcia drew a walk and Miranda Moles singled. Jessie Maciel singled to right to drive in Garcia. Valdez followed with a single up the middle to drive in both Moles and Maciel.
Valerio singled to right, but Valdez was thrown out at the plate for the first out. A groundout and a flyout ended the inning with the Stallions trailing by two runs.
With one out in the third, Maciel drew a walk. A groundout moved pinch-runner Christina Maahs to second. Maahs advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Valerio’s single to right.
The Stallions took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out, nobody out rally. Nevarez started the rally with a double to left-center field. Garcia tripled to right-center to drive in Nevarez. Garcia, after sliding into third, scored after the throw went in the dirt and past the third baseman to give the Stallions a 6-5 lead.
The Bears started their own two out, nobody on rally with a single in the fifth. On a 1-1 pitch, Merced’s Korynn Maravilla homered over the right-centerfield fence to give the Bears a 7-6 lead.
The Bears loaded the bases to continue the rally, but Merced left base early to end the inning.
Madera South appeared to have tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Maciel led off with a single to left. Valdez sacrificed her to second.
Valerio hit a grounder up the middle. The Merced shortstop went to the ball as Maciel was heading to third. Maciel stopped before getting to the shortstop and the ball went by the shortstop and into left field. Maciel came around to score the apparent tying score while Valerio headed to second.
However, the home plate umpire ruled Maciel interfered with the shortstop and called her out and sent Valerio back to first. The next batter flew out to end the inning.
Merced added an insurance run in the sixth, beginning with a lead off walk. Valerio came in and allowed a single and a double to drive in a run. Valerio got a grounder to second for the first out and got the runner at third in a rundown for the second out. A groundout to third ended the inning.
The Bears closed out the Stallions retiring the final seven batters in order.
Madera South continued play in Modesto at the Rainbow Fields Tournament.