Stallions upend Patriots in playoff opener
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South third baseman Erica Valdez celebrates making the final out with catcher Eliana Tovar after a 5-1 victory over Hoover in the first round of the Div. IV playoffs.
A complete game by pitcher A.J. Martinez, along with a two-RBI performance from freshman Elena Garcia allowed the Madera South girls softball team to beat the Hoover-Fresno Patriots for a 5-1 win in the first round of the Div. IV Central Section playoffs.
“We weren’t underestimating Hoover, at all,” Madera South head coach Peter Gallegos said. “We knew they came to play. They weren’t giving up and they were going to stick it out all the way and scratch in runs the beat they could.
“For us, we expected to play Stallion softball. We played strong defense, we had great pitching and we scratch in runs when we can. We knew it was going to be a good fight, we were ready.”
After a rough ending to the season against next-door rivals Madera, Martinez and company bounced back for a much-needed victory Wednesday.
Martinez was on point. Her rising fastball induced too many pop ups to count. She pounded the strike zone, generating seven strikeouts.
Although Martinez kept the Patriots at bay, a team effort on offense helped guarantee their victory.
The seventh seeded Stallions had hits from seven different players. Add in three walks and a few errors from the 10th seeded Patriots, the Stallions came out intent on advancing and that’s what they did.
Madera South did their work early, scoring all of their runs in the first three innings.
The first five batters for Madera South reached base. Savaanah Garcia and Miranda Moles earned back-to-back walks. Kaylee Nevarez singled to load the bases.
Taylor Valerio reached on a Patriot error, allowing Garcia to score.
Erica Valdez drove in the second run with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
Eliana Tovar opened the second inning with a double. However, after a flyout by Viviana Porras, Tovar left the base and was tagged out.
The order came back around and Garcia, the leadoff hitter, got on base again. This time through an error by the Patriot second basemen.
Moles doubled to right to bring Garcia home for a three-run lead.
In the third inning, Valerio singled and Valdez reached on an error.
Garcia stepped up and collected two RBIs after sending a double to right field.
With five runs across already in the third inning, the Stallions now had the game in their reach. Martinez took the lead and never let it go.
She got help from her defense for the final out of the game when third baseman Valdez made a head long dive on a short pop up.