County holds off late City rally
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune The County held off a late rally from the City to win the City/County All-Star Softball game Wednesday at Margie Wright Diamond at Fresno State. From left are County players Aaliyah Cuevas (Madera), Makenna Nevarez (Madera South) and Tea Layne (Madera), along with City players Carli Duke and Arianna Guzman of Liberty.
FRESNO — The County All-Stars took an early lead and held off a late City charge for a 5-4 victory in the City/County All-Star Softball game at Fresno State’s Margie Wright Diamond.
The County scored four runs in the third inning and stranded two runners in scoring position in the ninth to record the victory Wednesday night and send Madera Coyote seniors Tea Layne and Aaliyah Cuevas and Madera South’s Makenna Nevarez out winners in their final high school game. Liberty’s Arianna Guzman and Carli Duke played for the City squad.
“It’s pretty cool to play with other players on the same level, we just play in different divisions,” Guzman said. “We’re all the same. It’s just how much work you put in.
“It was a great experience,” Nevarez said. “I’m fine after getting hit. It brought back memories playing with Tea and Aaliyah from seventh and eighth grade. This game topped it, the end of my softball career.
“We made a lot of friends with them,” Layne said. “I like to be busy in the field. It was fun. I’m happy to be able to end my career in this all-star game.”
“I loved it,” Cuevas said. “It was a fun experience. We got to meet a lot of girls that we would never thought we would talk to.”
Cuevas lined out and drew a walk. She is the only one of the five that will play softball next year at a four-year university — Fresno State.
“After I got everything together of what I accomplished over four years, it’s been pretty good,” she said. “I never knew I did that good.”
City got on the scoreboard in the top of the third when Logan Kolehmainen reached on an infield single, went to second on a fielder’s choice and to third on an error. She scored on City Most Valuable Player Katie Jackson’s single to center.
County started a rally in the bottom of the third inning off McLane-Fresno pitcher Serena Thompkins. She walked the first three batters and all three came in to score.
Breanna Martin (Central-Fresno) flew out to right to drive in Emily Sanchez (Caruthers). Hanford West’s Hallie Harger hit a single on a hit-and-run to score Megan Ambriz (Lemoore) while Selma’s Savannah Peña went to third. County Most Valuable Player Gianna Mancha (Central) singled home Harger and Peña. Cuevas followed with a walk, but the next batter flew out to end the inning for a 4-1 County lead.
Both pitching staffs stepped up with County throwing zeroes for four straight inning while City allowed one run over the next five innings, although that run would prove to be the insurance run County needed.
County added a run in the bottom of the sixth with two outs. Peña reached on an error and went to second on Krislyn Kragie’s single to left. Peña scored when Kylie Ota (Central) reached on an error for a 5-1 lead.
Guzman entered the game in the seventh inning in the circle after spending a couple of innings playing third. Duke, who started the game at shortstop, re-entered the game to back up her teammate.
Guzman got a popout and a strikeout to open the inning. Then, a pitch got away from her and hit Nevarez in the helmet with the pitch. Guzman settled down and got a popout to end the inning. “I was more nervous hitting than pitching,” Guzman said. “I was good pitching. It happens sometimes (hitting a batter).”
City put the pressure on County in the top of the eight off Sierra-Tollhouse pitcher Emily Grimbleby. Mireya Sanchez (Sanger) was hit by a pitch and Bobbie Falcon (singled) After a strikeout, Julianna Martinez (Clovis West) drew a walk to load the bases. Jackson singled to left to drive in pinch-runner Hallie Gonzalez (Sanger).
Alex Snyder (Sunnyside-Fresno) reached on a fielder’s choice as Falcon scored. Jahara Wakeel (Bullard) reached on an error and Jackson scored to cut County’s lead to one with two on.
County head coach Scott Gorton (Central) went to the circle to relieve Grimbleby with his ace Mancha, who tossed the first two innings. Mancha struck out Desiree Reyes (Edison-Fresno) to end the inning.
Mancha got two flyouts in the top of the ninth, but allowed a single to Sanchez and another to January to put runners at second and third with one out. However, Martinez, on a 3-1 pitch, grounded back to Mancha to end the game with a County victory.