Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South first baseman Jocelyn Ochoa reaches out to make the catch on a throw to first during Thursday’s loss to Buhach Colony.
The Madera South Stallions softball team was three outs away from a key 3-1 victory over Buhach Colony-Atwater in a non-conference game.
All the Stallions needed to do was get through the top of the seventh and Madera South would get a victory over the team that defeated Div. I Clovis North to win the Madera South Stallions Showdown in March.
In bat and ball worlds, they say the toughest outs to get are the final three outs and the Stallions found that out the hard way.
Buhach led off the inning with a single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch. A bloop single to right put runners at first and second. Pitcher A.J. Martinez got a popout to Savaanah Garcia at short for the first out.
Another bloop single, this one over Garcia’s head into left field loaded the bases. The next batter flew out to Aleecia Rosel and Buhach scored a run to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Stallions’ coaching staff elected it intentionally walk the next batter to load the bases. On the first pitch to the next batter, the batter popped one to the middle of the infield. Martinez vacated the pitching circle. However, the ball didn’t stay up enough for middle infielders Garcia and Miranda Moles could get there to allow the game-tying run to score.
From there, Buhach poured it on with a two-run double to the No. 9 batter and a run-scoring single for a five-run inning and head north with a 6-3 victory Thursday at Madera South.
Starting pitcher Taylor Valerio got herself into and out of trouble in the first two innings. She stranded the bases loaded in the second, allowed a run in the second, but stranded a runner at third. She allowed the bases loaded in the third before Martinez relieved her and got a strikeout to end the threat.
Martinez was cruising along for the next three innings, allowing two baserunners, but getting through the innings unscathed until the seventh.
Meanwhile, the Stallions took advantage of their opportunities in the second inning.
Kaylee Nearez led off the inning nine-pitch walk. After Martinez sacrificed Nevarez to second, Viviana Porras singled up the middle to put runners at first and third.
Monique Martinez grounded out to drive in Nevarez and Rosel walked to load the bases. Moles then doubled to left-centerfield to drive in Porras and Rosel for a 3-1 lead.
The Madera South offense was held in check. They had just three baserunners over the final five innings, all from walks, and none advanced past second base.