FROM AUBURN JOURNAL
It looks like Placer’s A-Team is starting to show up on the softball field.If coach Aaron Rubio had a plan, it’s definitely coming together.Zoey Lykins tripled, singled, scored twice and drove in four, and the Hillgals scored seven runs in the second inning on their way to a 12-2, six-inning win at home over Center on Thursday.”She was on fire,” Rubio said of Lykins, who played a big role in Wednesday’s 10-4 victory over Colfax as well. “She went on a little cold spell there for a while, but she’s started picking it up. She has confidence right now.”
So does Emily Geil, who went 3 for 3 with a pair of doubles, scored a run and drove in three.
“She is having a good season,” Rubio said. “She works hard. She’s a leader on the team. In the dugout, she’s the one telling the girls to get pumped up, trying to give them confidence, to say the right things to get them in the right frame of mind to get out there and perform.”
Alexis Johnson went 3 for 3 as well, all of them bunt singles. She scored twice and drove in a run. All of that on the heels of Wednesday’s game, in which she had two more bunt singles.
“They knew she was bunting, and they still couldn’t get her out,” Rubio said. “She places it very well, and she’s really fast.”
Delana Provan and Raven Lewis each doubled and drove in two runs.
All of that offense was more than enough for Bethany Thornton, who went 3 innings in the circle and allowed just one hit and one unearned run while striking out five to get the win, and Emily Glover, who picked up for her and threw the last three innings.
“We stress the fact that our pitchers are out there doing a good job, and we have to support them offensively,” Rubio said. “You don’t want your pitcher giving up one or two runs and losing the game.
“Pitchers have to know their defense is going to be behind them and their offense is going to put runs on the board. It’s a better feeling on the mound pitching. They know they don’t have to be so perfect.”
The win keeps Placer atop the PVL at 4-0; the Hillgals are 7-8 overall and now have a positive run differential over the season.
“Hopefully, we can keep building,” Rubio said.Placer 10, Colfax 4This game practically defined “closer than the score would indicate.”Placer and Colfax were tied 4-4 going into the seventh inning before the Hillgals scored six in the top of the frame to pull away.“It was a lot closer game than the score showed,” Rubio said.The game was played in Auburn because Colfax’s field was not playable, but the Falcons were still the home team.
And they looked strong early. Molly Williams started for Placer and allowed a couple of runs – one some good hitting by the Falcons and some not-so-good defense by the Hillgals – and Alexis Extein threw the third inning, but Colfax was getting hits off of her as well, so Rubio turned to Thornton.
Still, Colfax led, 4-3 – it probably would have been more but for a spectacular, full-stretch diving catch by Lykins in right field to rob the Falcons of extra bases in the bottom of the third – when Taylor Kemis came to the plate and with one swing tied it up.
“She jump-started our offense,” Rubio said.
Well, it was a bit of a delayed reaction. Neither team scored over the next three innings, set up the last inning, when the HIllgals’ bats finally came alive.
“Their pitcher did a good job of keeping us off balance,” Rubio said. “She wasn’t throw, she just didn’t throw as hard. The ones who don’t throw as hard have better movement. Our girls really like a faster pitcher.”
Colfax brought in a faster pitcher for the seventh inning, proving Rubio’s point.
It was a solid win, Rubio acknowledged, but he sees room for improvement.
“We have to work on our mental toughness,” he said. “They know what they’re capable of doing. They’ve showed it, but they don’t always show it. They can take a bad defensive inning up to the plate, and vice versa.”
They’ll get some work in today; the Hillgals have two games in the rescheduled, rain-delayed Stephanie LeDoux Tournament. At noon, they take on Oak Ridge, and at 2 p.m., they’ll play Roseville.