Liberty coach ends tenure with win
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Madera was well represented at the 39th Annual City/County All-Star Softball game on Wednesday at Washington Union’s Panthers Stadium. From left are City and Liberty head coach Steve Uyeda, Elena Garcia (Madera South), Lealani Ricks (Madera), Jaclyn Smith (Liberty), Sarah Walter (Madera) and City and Liberty assistant coach Danny Rivera.
EASTON — Liberty Hawks softball coach Steve Uyeda pushed all the right buttons to lead the City All-Star softball team to an 8-4 victory over the County in the 39th annual City/County All-Star softball game at Washington Union-Easton’s Panthers Stadium.
Uyeda, who announced he wasn’t returning to the Liberty bench next year, was honored before the game with an induction into the City/County Softball Hall of Fame and was surprised by his family and former teammates.
“It was pretty cool tonight,” he said. “I couldn’t have drawn it up this way. I haven’t done anything. I show up and tell kids to run the bases.”
Uyeda’s City team scored four runs in the top of the ninth to break a 4-4 tie. Wednesday’s victory comes at the heels of leading the Hawks to the Div. III Central Section championship game.
“It was a pretty good run. Very nice to end the season like this,” he said.
Liberty’s Jaclyn Smith was 0-for-2 in her appearance with Uyeda.
“It’s nice to finish this with Steve. I owe everything in softball to him,” she said.
After not having a game in 2020, the City/County committee moved the site to Washington Union, which had the distinction of the 2020 Softball facility of the year. Although seating was packed in, many fans and players were happy to see the game played.
“After COVID hit, it was an oh no situation,” Smith said. “I’m blessed that we got to put it together. It was really fun seeing how fast you had to mesh with new people. It was a lot of fun. My team was crazy, but we all got along.”
“It felt really nice, especially since I feel this might be my last game. I had to go all out,” said Madera’s Sarah Walter.
While Liberty played for the City, Madera and Madera South players represented the County team. Walter went 2-for-2 with a double and bunt single. Teammate Lealani Ricks was 1-for-2 with a bunt single. Madera South’s Elena Garcia drew a full-count walk in her only plate appearance.
Walter, who earned a start in left field got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning with a one-out double to the left-centerfield gap.
She came in to score on a single from Maddisen Shimmon (Hanford West) for an early 1-0 lead.
“It felt really nice because my confidence was there,” Walter said about her double. “I wasn’t thinking about everything. It felt free.”
After a walk to Fowler’s Aneesa Almaguer, Paige Messenheimer (Washington Union) flew out to right field. Pinch-runner Marissa Cerda (Selma) tried to tag up to third. The throw from right field went off the third baseman-s glove for an error and Cerda came in to score for a 2-0 lead.
The City started a two-out, nobody on rally with a Jordyn Boel (Buchanan) single to right, a wild pitch and an RBI single from Karli Arreola (Hoover) to cut the lead in half.
City tied the score in the top of the fifth. Marissa Fondtain (Buchanan) reached on a fielder’s chice, stole second and scored on a double steal with Bullard’s Sariah Ayala to tie the game at 2.
County reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Kristin Bray (Hanford) singled to left. Emilee Sanchez (Selma) followed with a two-run home run just below the scoreboard in left-center for a 4-2 lead.
City tied the score with back-to-back home runs from Clovis’ Caitlin DeCanio and Buchanan’s Claire Raley.
The City broke open the game in the top of the ninth. Bullard’s Leilyn Alvarez singled and scored on a wild pitch, Bullard’s Logan Amaral walked and scored on a throwing error, Clovis’ Maddy Arnold walked and her pinch runner scored on a single from Fondtain. Mia Antonino (Clovis North) reached on an infield single and scored on a double steal with Alvarez for the 8-4 victory.