Yuma Catholic girls fall in pitching duel
El Centro-Central needed a head start to finally score against Yuma Catholic pitcher Megan Van Horn on Saturday morning in their Shamrock Spring Classic semifinal matchup.
After playing to a scoreless tie through six innings, the Spartans were allowed to start the top of the seventh with Jennifer Roberts on second base. Roberts moved to third on a bunt and scored on an error, giving Central the lone run in a 1-0 victory over the host Sham- rocks.
"Honestly, I'm not really disappointed," Van Horn said. "We played great, and that's all you can ask for. I'm a little upset, but I'm not going to cry over it."
The Shamrocks (7-3) started the bottom of the seventh with Megan Umbauer on second, but were unable to bring her home, denying them a berth in the title game.
Central beat Holtville 5-4 in the championship game.
Central pitcher Monica Sandoval held the Yuma Catholic lineup in check throughout the entire game. She gave up only one hit, a second-inning single to Nikki Bauer, and then proceeded to set down the next nine batters she faced, and 15 of the next 16.
"I felt I did pretty good," Sandoval said. "I had my defense behind me, and I felt like my pitches were working for me today."
Sandoval struck out eight Shamrock batters while yielding just two walks, both to Sara Pat Badgely. Until the final inning, she didn't allow a runner past second base.
"Our problem is now in the center of our lineup," Yuma Catholic coach Charlie Dine said. "We had six strikeouts from the middle. When we had to have hits, we struck out."
Despite being unable to score, the Shamrocks remained in the game because Van Horn was every bit as sharp as Sandoval. Like Sandoval, Van Horn allowed just three batters to reach base - she gave up three singles and walked none - while striking out five batters. The lone run she yielded was unearned.
"It was a really big battle between us," Van Horn said of the pitching duel. "She pitched great, and I pitched great. You can't ask for anything more."
Van Horn only got into trouble once, when two singles and an error gave the Spartans runners at second and third with no outs. But she quickly retired the side in order, starting a stretch where she would put down 15 of 16 batters.
"I'm very proud of Megan," Dine said. "She had a bad night last night (in a 9-8 loss to Palo Verde), and she started sluggish today, but she made adjustments and came back strong.
"I'm also proud of our catcher (Jennifer Jackson). She made the adjustments with Megan that didn't get made last night."
Yuma Catholic shortstop Jennifer Senini stared on defese, starting a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth inning and made a heads-up play in the sixth, snagging a ball that had been deflected by Van Horn in time to throw out Sandoval at first base.
Rich Polikoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6882.