Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South catcher Eliana Tovar reaches back to tag out Bullard’s Leilyn Alvarez trying to score during Tuesday’s 11-4 loss to the Knights.
With wind gusts reaching up to 25 miles per hour and the Bullard-Fresno Knights coming into town with a perfect league record, the Madera South Stallions softball team had to battle the harsh elements and a strong opponent.
The Stallions fell behind early under the conditions and found it difficult to recover, losing 11-4 against Bullard on Tuesday.
Facing an 11-1 deficit, the Stallions scored three runs in the sixth innings to put together their best stretch of the game, but the Knights didn’t allow them to get any closer.
“I was happy with the girls,” Madera South head coach Peter Gallegos said. “They have been fighting all season. They just have to learn how to stay in games, finish games.”
The Knights got off to a 3-0 start in the first inning, but the Stallions got on the board in the second inning with senior Erica Valdez driving in Hannah Tatro.
Madera South allowed a runner on third base in the third inning, but the Stallions escaped without any damage done as the Bullard runner was tagged out at home.
The Knights found their groove again in the fourth inning. Facing junior pitcher Taylor Valerio, the Knights started the inning with two consecutive hits to right field. That led to two more runs for the Knights to make it 5-1. The Knights extended their lead to 7-1 before the Stallions finally ended the inning with a flyout.
Madera senior Erica Valdez replaced Valerio on the mound in the fifth inning, but the Knights didn’t slow down. Valdez gave up two hits against the first two batters she faced, then allowed a walk. The Knights capitalized with two runs after a throw that flew over the catcher and a ball that skipped passed the second baseman.
Valdez, however, bounced back with a strikeout to end the inning.
“I told them how proud I am of them and how they kept fighting every inning,” Gallegos said. “This group of girls is a good group of girls. They’re hard working, they’re motivated. I appreciate everything they do.
The umpire had to stop the game several times as the heavy wind lifted clouds of dust over the infield. The conditions not only made it difficult to pitch and bat, but also caused problems in the outfield as the players struggled to track down flyballs swerving with the wind.
Still, the Stallions didn’t want to use the wind as an excuse.
“They had some pop flies that they missed, we had some pop flies that we missed,” Gallegos said. “The conditions were equal, but we just faced a good team.”
With the loss, the Stallions dropped to 3-2 in league.
“I know that it’s a tough league that we are in, but I think we can compete against any team,” Gallegos said.