Co-written by Sanjana MurthyIt was the bottom of the fifth, bases loaded. The Matadors were behind by three runs when junior Danielle Koontz walked up to the plate. As her fellow teammates crouched from their position at the bases in preparation to even the score, Koontz swung her bat and connected. The crowd watched as the ball soared in the center field, and, when it was caught, adjusted its gaze to the action at home plate, just in time to see senior Maddy Marten score the Matador’s third run of the game — the first in a quick succession of runs that would tie the score by the end of the inning.
Despite their admirable effort, the Matadors lost 5-7 in softball’s preseason game against Prospect High School on Wednesday, March 9.
PHS started strong at the top of the first inning, scoring two runs with a well-placed triple, establishing a lead that MVHS struggled to overcome. Until the fifth inning, it was mostly a game of catch-up for the Matadors, who slowly added runs and eventually brought the score up to 2-3 in favor of the Panthers in the bottom of the fourth.
And then, the fifth inning. Prospect scored two runs, one of them via a double that almost cleared the fence. Leading into the bottom of the inning, the outlook for an MVHS victory seemed bleak.
All eyes were on senior Maddy Marten as she went up to bat, managing to secure a single, mostly due to a throw that overshot the Panthers’ first baseman. Then, junior Mika Maenaga bunted another single, as did sophomore Aly Olkein, who also happened to benefit from shoddy fielding from the Panthers.
With the bases now loaded and zero outs, Koontz brought Marten home with an RBI sac fly caught in center field. The crowd cheered, screaming Koontz’s name as she walked victoriously back to the dugout.
Sophomore Ann Marie Manley used a similar strategy, grounding out and allowing Maenaga to score, as the home crowd grew more and more exultant. Moments later, freshman Molly Huang hit a single into center field that allowed Olkein to run home from third base and finally tie the game at 5-5: the first time the Matadors were not trailing this game.
“I was just trying to get the ball into the gaps,” Huang said. “There was a runner on third and I was trying to do whatever I could to score.”
Despite the slew of runs put on the scoreboard by the opposition in earlier innings, Koontz, who pitched a complete game, managed to keep the Panthers at bay in the sixth inning with a few strikeouts and quick ground-outs. The sixth inning went by quickly, as neither side was able to score any runs. At the top of the seventh inning, which was to be the last one played, the Panthers managed to score two runs, though they were notably unable to take full advantage of their loaded bases due to solid fielding by the Matadors.
At the bottom of the seventh, the Matadors had the potential to score but were unable to deliver. The game ended on a discouraging note, as senior Marissa Lee’s strong but misplaced ball was caught by the Panthers, finishing at a loss of 5-7.
Overall, the Matadors were strong batters, though several opportunities went to waste, as well-hit balls lacked proper placement.
“We could have definitely done better,” Olkein said. “Our hits just went right to them.”
The result was especially painful considering the team’s 4-5 loss to the Panthers last year, an outcome they had hoped to overcome.
“[It was] a tough loss,” coach Raymond Teixeira said. “As a team I think we had the ability to beat them, but we just didn’t play well enough today. It’s still early in the season, we have lots of things to work on.”
Looking to the future, Teixeira aims to guide his team, which has just made the jump to the League’s A division, toward qualification for CCS. He’s put together what he believes is a tougher pre-season than what the Matadors usually play, hoping that the extra practice will benefit his team as they enter a new level of competition.
“League’s very competitive,” Teixeira said, “so we’re hopefully going to use this…as an opportunity to prepare, to get ready for the regular season.”
|Scoring Play||Score (Inning)|
|PHS brings runners on first and third home with a triple.||0-2 (Top of 1st)|
|MVHS scores on single to left field, with runner on second.||1-2 (Bottom of 1st)|
|PHS batsmen steals second and third and is brought home with a single.||1-3 (Top of 3rd)|
|MVHS scores on single, with runner on third.||2-3 (Bottom of 4th)|
|PHS scores two runs with three back-to-back hits.||2-5 (Top of 5th)|
|MVHS ties the game with bases loaded at zero outs through two sacrifice at-bats and a single.||5-5 (Bottom of 5th)|
|PHS regains lead with two runs.||5-7 (Top of 7th)|