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Cibola softball opens with win over Kofa
It didn't take long for Cibola senior shortstop Bethany Olea to start her season.
Olea smashed the third pitch of her first inning at-bat over the right-field wall to give the Raiders an early 1-0 lead Thursday. Cibola went on to beat Kofa 6-2.
“She threw me two balls and I waited for my pitch,” Olea said. “It was pretty much over the plate.”
The Kings put the pressure right back on in the bottom of the first. After two quick outs, Kofa loaded the bases but a passed ball turned into a play at the plate. Cibola pitcher Nadia Hernandez tagged out Sally Gastelo at the plate and escaped the jam unscathed.
“I think that was just a huge booster,” Cibola coach Shelly Baumann said. “And in the beginning of the game when Bethany hit the home run. I had four freshmen starting today so I knew everyone was a little bit nervous, it's a big game against Kofa, but I think when Bethany hit that ball out in the first inning, I think everyone just calmed down. Then I saw the emotions go a little bit more.”
Hernandez calmed down and let her change up do the talking, retiring six of the next seven Kofa batters.
“It feels really good,” Hernandez said. “It feels like the weight has been lifted off of me.”
Hernandez got into a little bit of trouble in the fourth, surrendering the lead on a two-run single from Kofa third basemen Caila Mackabee, but again calmed down only allowing three hits the rest of the game.
“She was strong from the first inning to the seventh inning,” Baumann said. “I really couldn't tell the difference. The change up was nice. She did a good job.”
A few Cibola batters had the crowd laughing with multiple 10-plus pitch at-bats. Right-handed catcher Hannah Lackey crushed riser after riser over the Kofa dugout, while lefty Alicia Young flipped pitch after pitch over the same dugout.
“It's the beginning of the year my guys were shaky a little bit,” Baumann said. “We got some bunts down and put some pressure on them. Alyssa Gallegos came through with a big double there to right-center field. It's the beginning of the year, what can we say, we have a long way to go with that, but we put six up so we're proud of that.”
The nerves also affected the Kings, who couldn't capitalize in key situations with runners on base. Kofa stranded nine base runners on the night.
“The girls said they were a little nervous,” Kofa coach Emma Morrison said. “They're always a little nervous the first game, then we just didn't execute our hitting again. We had bases loaded and we just didn't put the ball in play and then we had a couple of mistakes which allowed them to move their runners and then they got the hits when they needed them.”
Kofa hits the road at 4 p.m. today to play San Luis, while Kofa heads east at 4 p.m. today to take on Gila Ridge.