PALMDALE — The work the Quartz Hill softball team had done to improve its hitting was evident early in its Golden League opener on Tuesday at Knight High School.
The Rebels had three hits in a five-run second inning that was enough to propel them to an 8-3 win over Knight.
“I think we played really good,” Quartz Hill senior Katie Zuniga said. “We played good defense. We’ve been working a lot on our hitting.”
Zuniga had two hits for the Rebels (3-2, 1-0) and two RBIs and also struck out 15 Knight (4-4, 0-1) batters in seven innings.
Zuniga hit an RBI double to drive in senior Alexis Sumner early in the second inning to give Quartz Hill the early 1-0 lead.
When Quartz Hill junior leadoff batter Hailey Johnson was hit by a pitch, it loaded the bases with one out for freshman Brynn Carcamo.
Carcamo, the Rebels’ third baseman, drilled a pitch over the left-center field fence to give Quartz Hill a 5-0 lead.
“I was pretty excited and glad that I got runs in,” Carcamo said. “He told me that I just need a base hit and I hit a grand slam, so that was pretty cool.
“Just knowing that I can was pretty good. I’m very happy that I delivered.”
Carcamo finished 3-for-4 at the plate with a walk and scored a run in a two-run fourth inning for the Rebels.
“One of the first things she had to become aware of is she’s not allowed to be a freshman anymore,” Drennan said. “We’re coming into league and we don’t look at our girls as juniors, seniors, sophomores or whatever. They’re softball players. She’s going to make youth mistakes, but she also does some pretty special things. She’s definitely a solid portion of this team for us.”
Carcamo singled after Johnson led off the fourth with a walk. Quartz Hill junior Abby Andrade hit an RBI single and Carcamo scored on an error.
“I think we really came back from the last time we played them. I wasn’t here, but I guess we lost, pretty bad,” Carcamo said. “I think we just came out and played our game and really showed them who we are.”
Quartz Hill, which finished second behind Highland last season, and Knight split their two games last season. The Hawks finished third in the Golden League last year.
The Rebels added an insurance run in the seventh, as a light rain began for the first time during the game.
Quartz Hill sophomore Jordyn Billodeaux and Zuniga hit back-to-back doubles to start the inning. Zuniga finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Billodeaux was 2-for-3.
“I thought we played really well early on, but offensively I don’t think we finished very well,” Drennan said. “My hat goes off to Knight. They came out and their second pitcher is nothing we’ve ever seen before. It was a definite changeup. Her speed kind threw us off, but we’ll definitely make the corrections that need to be made in practice before we see them again on Thursday.”
Knight’s Sammie Ojeda held Quartz Hill to one run in four innings of relief, giving up four hits, two walks and one hit batter, while striking out one.
The Rebels finished with 10 hits, scattered through all seven innings. Knight had six hits, three in the seventh inning.
“I thought Katie threw very well,” Drennan said. “I was very happy with the way Katie threw. So far she’s been nothing but good for us this season. She’s a leader for us and then she goes out and has a performance like this. I thought she did very well.”
Zuniga gave up three runs on six hits, including a three-run home run to Knight senior shortstop Amy Manzo, a first-year varsity player, with one out in the seventh inning.
“I think I threw pretty well,” Zuniga said. “I left a few pitches. I could have improved on some of them, but overall I think I did alright. There’s always room for improvement.
“I just need to learn from my mistakes and just move forward and not think about what happened in the past.”
Knight first baseman Amaya Colson was 2-for-3 at the plate for the Hawks, including a leadoff single in the seventh and a two-out triple in the fourth.
“I thought they did well,” Knight coach Tammy Zimmardi said. “If we could have done better at the plate, hitting wise, it would have been a whole different game. But there’s no quit in them. I’m proud of them. They fought. We had that one bad inning. Otherwise I thought they played quite well.
“I think they learned a lot from this. We have a lot of new faces on this team this year. There were nerves running high, but that’s OK. That’s to be expected. We’re going to come out ready to play on Thursday.”
The Hawks have three returning starters: pitcher Yulia Pena, catcher Trinity Largy and Colson.
“Everyone else is new in the lineup, but they bust their butts all season long and they’re working,” Zimmardi said. “I think our newbies learned a lot today. The returners are helping them as well.”
Knight is also battling illnesses, ranging from nausea to respiratory illnesses.
“Considering half our team is sick, I’m just proud of them that they gave everything they had,” Zimmardi said. “It’s just that thing that’s going around right now. It’s not a good one.
“They played with their heart today and I am OK with that.”
The two teams will face each other again on Thursday, this time at Quartz Hill High.
The second and final day of the Glenn Steinkamp Memorial Softball Tournament was canceled due to early morning rain on Saturday.
Drennan said the tournament will be made up by individual schools at their local fields.
“We didn’t get to finish up the tournament on Saturday, which is unfortunate,” Drennan said. “We’ve got a bunch of teams that are scrambling for games and there’s going to be some off site scheduling going on. We’ve already scheduled two games for us. I know a lot of the other teams have been scheduling stuff away and it still falls under the umbrella of the tournament. That’s good for them, because they don’t lose any games because of it. I guess it’s going to make the tournament just go on even longer.”