There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s-but scratch all that nonsense. On April 12, the Malibu girl’s varsity softball team defeated the Santa Paula Cardinals in Santa Paula 5-4. Three days later, the Malibu girls weren’t in Santa Paula anymore, but at their home field in Malibu, where they lost a nail-biter to the visiting Cardinals 4-3.
So much for home field advantage.
The second of these games began with Malibu freshman Brittany Cowart in the pitcher’s circle facing Santa Paula junior Celina Rios. Cowart had some problems with her control in this first inning, walking Rios and two others as well as hitting a batter. But what she may have lacked in control in the early part of the game she made up for in clutch pitching, giving up only one run and stranding the bases loaded after facing seven batters in the inning.
Malibu (3-8, 1-1) went scoreless in the bottom of the first. With one out, senior Cassidy Pritchett singled up the middle. Following a fielder’s choice by junior Katrina Morelock, clean-up hitter Jane Hauptman came up to the plate and hit a blooper to the right side which surely looked like it would drop. But Rios-the Santa Paula second baseman-had other ideas as she ended the inning with a remarkable diving catch. She received cheers from both Malibu and Santa Paula fans in attendance.
Seemingly feeding off Rios’ play, Santa Paula (2-7, 1-1) scored three more runs in the top of the second inning, highlighted by an RBI triple to right field by senior Heather Sliger. The hit gave Santa Paula a 4-0 lead. Then, Santa Paula’s bench began to sing in support of its team. “Holy sheep, that was deep,” the girls were heard singing in unison in various junctures of the game. Sliger was subsequently caught and tagged out in a run-down between third base and home, suturing the damage. The Cardinals would be held scoreless the rest of the game.
The Sharks struck first in the top bottom of the third inning. Junior Casey Zweig and Pritchett led off the inning with singles. Zweig scored Malibu’s first run on a Santa Paula error later in the inning, but that was all Malibu would get until the bottom of the sixth inning. Hauptman singled and scored a run in the sixth to make it a 4-2 ballgame with one inning left.
Malibu relief pitcher Lisa Marie Kohrs kept the game close for the Sharks in the top of the seventh inning, striking out the side after giving up two harmless singles to Santa Paula batters. Better late than never, Malibu had its most impressive inning at the plate in the bottom half of the inning.
Malibu head coach Alfredo Silva’s decision to send up pinch-hitter Laureen Jenson in the bottom of the seventh paid off. Jenson led the inning off with a deep triple to right-center. After a ground out, Malibu’s Zweig, who was 3 for 4 on the afternoon, knocked in Jenson on a well-hit RBI double, making it a 4-3 game with two outs remaining. The next Malibu batter flew out to center field, but Morelock singled with two outs sending Zweig, the tying run, to third base. Hauptman then popped out to the catcher to end the game.
It was a tough loss for the Sharks, but coach Silva found the silver lining. “In the end we needed some clutch hits to come back and we got some clutch hits,” he said. “We hit when we had to. Our seniors did what they needed to do. We’re just excited that we are competing for a playoff spot. These girls work very hard and I really hope they get rewarded with the playoff spot.”
The Sharks’ next home game is against North Hollywood’s Campbell Hall on April 27 at 3:30 p.m.