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Villalobos fans 13 as Crims top Hawks
After Tuesday's scare at Yuma High, when the school was placed on lockdown for three hours after a student threatened to use a gun, Isabel Villalobos arrived at Gila Ridge's softball field feeling different. Seven innings later, the junior pitcher had tossed a 13-strikeout gem, allowing two hits and propelling the Criminals to a 4-1 win in the Gila Valley Region opener for both teams.
“This could have been our last time playing, you never know what could have happened,” Villalobos said. “You don't take things for granted anymore.”
In fact, Villalobos and Yuma High coach Liz Huyck were together in third period physical training when the school was locked down. As they sat in the dark in the locker room, Huyck tried to keep her star pitcher mentally ready.
“I kept saying, ‘We're going to have a game, don't lose your focus with something like this,'” Huyck said.
Villalobos' lone hiccup came in the first inning, when a passed ball allowed Nikki Kelland to score from third base. From there, Villalobos looked dominant in the circle, her pitches moving all over the zone. Villalobos said she's starting to gain her midseason form, as she pitched in five games this weekend during the Colorado River Invitational.
“I wasn't giving them anything. I wasn't putting it right there,” Villalobos said. “I was going in and out, far, low. It seemed like my ball was dropping a lot and that's what was getting them.”
From Gila Ridge coach Jaime McGalliard's point of view, her team was equally responsible for Villalobos' success. The Hawks entered Tuesday averaging 11 runs in their previous three contests, two of them wins. Against Villalobos, only three Hawks reached scoring position.
“We weren't aggressive at the plate,” McGalliard said. “I think that we didn't make adjustments at the plate. Offensively, we've been hitting the ball pretty well and defensively we've been struggling a little bit. Today was the complete opposite.”
After falling behind early, the Criminal offense picked up Villalobos with three runs in the third. Center fielder Brittney Ramos was at the middle of it all, delivering a two-run triple to right field before scoring on a sacrifice fly. Despite her freshman status, Ramos is hitting over .500 this season and has earned her keep as Yuma High's No. 3 hitter.
“She has really matured and is just fitting right in with this team,” Huyck said. “The great thing with her is she can play any position, too. ... It's just a blessing to have her.”
With the victory, Yuma High moved to 6-5, 1-0 GVR this season, while Gila Ridge dropped to 4-6, 0-1 with the defeat.