PALMDALE — The energy level for the Knight softball team was high and intense from the opening pitch on Thursday against Lancaster.
The Hawks were loud and fired up for the Golden League game and the energy level intensified in the fourth inning, when Knight scored four runs.
Knight kept up its energy level in the fifth, scoring six runs to end the game, invoking the mercy rule, with an 11-1 victory at Knight High.
“I feel like we did amazing,” said Knight senior Trinity Largy, a four-year varsity player. “We came out strong. We stayed strong throughout the whole thing. Our energy was great the whole time, which is what we always strive for, for energy to stay up and we played as a team. We did good.”
Knight (5-6, 1-3) lost 6-3 at Lancaster (4-3, 2-1) on Tuesday.
“The big difference was we showed up to play today,” Knight coach Tammy Zimmardi said. “They showed up with that heart. They showed up with the intensity. They came ready. They came confident. Everything that needed to be checked off, they came with it today.
“I talked to them after the game on Tuesday, on things that I saw. Yesterday we had a really good practice. We also talked about exactly what has to happen today, because we knew we were way better than what we showed on Tuesday, way better, as you saw today. It was written all over their faces on several of them on Tuesday. I don’t know where they were. The confidence was not there. It was just a bad day. Today we learned we better not play like we did on Tuesday again.”
The intensity level translated into an early lead, as Sammie Ojeda hit a one-out double in the bottom of the first and scored when Largy followed with a single.
Largy said the energy level was the difference in the two games.
“I feel we had way more energy this time,” said Largy, who finished 3-for-3 at the plate. “We knew we needed our energy, bad. I think it’s just talking to each other and being energized towards each other really helps and keeping our energy up the whole time, having each other’s backs and always picking each other up no matter what happens.”
The Eagles tied the game with a run in the top of the fourth inning. Van Chambers ran out an infield single with two outs, advanced to second on a bad throw and scored when Caitlyn Morgan followed with a bloop single in front of a diving Knight center fielder, Abby Curtis.
Curtis made a diving catch to end the third inning and drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth inning with one out.
“We played with our heart out, so much better than Tuesday,” said Curtis, a second-year varsity player. “We became stronger. We practiced hard yesterday. We got 100 balls hit to us. We were hitting hard. We had confidence.
“Tuesday we just gave up on ourselves. We got into our heads. Today we became stronger. We became more of a team. We talked it up. We got frustrated, but at practice we got more motivated. We talked about being loud. I feel like our team has heart and we’re strong. We’re a strong team. Everyone doubts us, but we’re strong.”
Denise Carrillo started the fourth by reaching on an error, Amy Manzo singled and Sarah Mendez followed with a walk. Ojeda followed Curtis in the lineup by driving in a run with a ground ball and Largy followed with a bloop double to center to drive in two runs.
“It’s one thing you can say about the Hawks, year after year,” Zimmardi said. “We love each other and we feed off each other. You see, we were so loud the entire game and they feed off each other.”
Carrillo started the Hawks’ fifth inning rolling when she was hit by a pitch with one out, Manzo followed with a walk and Layla Cortez hit a two-run double with two outs.
Curtis followed with an RBI single, Ojeda reached on an error and Largy hit an RBI single.
Knight first baseman Amaya Colson finished the game with a two-run single.
“We just got to keep practicing, keep doing what we did yesterday at practice and playing hard,” Curtis said. “We have to get out of our heads. If we lose, we have to come back and we talk it up. Thirty seconds. You do your chant and get back into the game.”
Knight starting pitcher Yuli Pena gave up one run on three hits and three walks in five innings, striking out three.
It was the first league victory for Knight, which lost a two-game series to Quartz Hill to open Golden League.
“I’m still very confident in my team all the time,” Largy said. “I know we didn’t start off strong, but we’re coming back stronger. It doesn’t matter. We’re still a team and we’re still going to fight together.”
Knight leaves for La Jolla next week to play in the Torrey Invitational, Thursday through Saturday. The Hawks will play Eastside in a two-game series starting on March 26 at Knight High.
The Eagles are off next week during Spring Break before they face Highland in a two-game series, starting on March 26.
“To me they came out a little flat,” Lancaster coach Erick Price said. “Pete Knight definitely had a lot more energy than we did. I just told them right now, we have to make the routine plays. If you can’t make routine plays, then you have results like this. But I told them to keep their heads up. We’re still in the hunt for first place.
“We definitely had a lot of energy on Tuesday and just today, you could see in the first inning, they just weren’t in it. I can’t put my finger on it, but I told them if we come out like this when we play Highland after we get back from Spring Break, we’re going to have the same result.”