LANCASTER — The Antelope Valley College softball team picked up some timely hits to back up a solid pitching performance by Briana Garrett in a 5-1 victory over Western State Conference rival College of the Canyons on Thursday.
“Today, I felt like it was a really good team effort,” AVC coach Cindy Vargas said. “A lot of girls contributed in different ways and I was super proud of them. Of course, it starts in the circle.”
It was the second straight big win for the Marauders (11-7, 3-0), who defeated Citrus 3-0 on Wednesday.
Garrett threw her second complete game in as many days, allowing just one run on eight hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts against the Cougars (8-4, 3-1). She had 11 strikeouts against Citrus.
“Every game I want at least 10 Ks,” said Garrett, who added it was a big accomplishment to do that on back-to-back days. “I’m in a competition right now, I’m tied for third in the state and my goal is to get first, so we’ll see.”
COC scattered four hits over the first five innings, but strung a few together to get one run and threaten for more in the top of the sixth inning.
Garrett yielded a double to Sierra Boyajian, who then scored on a single by Micayla Aguilar. The Cougars’ Kaitlyn Post followed with a single of her own and Valerie Rivas walked to load the bases with no outs.
But Garrett held her composure. She got the next batter to pop up on the infield. An unsuccessful diving attempt to catch the ball froze the runner at third, which gave the defense time to tag her out before she could run home.
Then Garrett struck out the next two batters looking to get out of the jam.
“I’m used to the pressure,” Garrett said. “I just take deep breaths and I know my defense has my back. … I love the pressure, I do. I’m so competitive.”
Vargas was proud of Garrett for her solid pitching in both big games this week.
“She’s a beast,” Vargas said.
What made the wins even more impressive is that everyone is playing a little beat up for the Marauders. Catcher Rosie Marquez was getting beat up behind the plate. A foul ball hit her beneath her protective vest and another play shook her up later on.
Garrett is battling a muscle strain in her leg and third baseman Kaitlyn Cronin has been playing through a shoulder injury, just to name a few.
“Our team’s beat up right now, but we’re playing well,” Vargas said.
The Marauders had just five hits in the game, but they all came at the right time. They got on the board first as Maritza Arroyo drew a one-out walk and scored from first on a double to the left-center gap by Pricilla Gomez-Lopez.
“Honestly, when I hit it, I felt amazing, like the way it came off the bat and everything, I just knew it was going to be a solid hit,” Gomez-Lopez said. “I’ve been struggling to hit my outside pitch. When I swung at it, I knew. I had to stare at it for a quick second. I was like, ‘Yes!’ It made me feel very accomplished.”
Gomez-Lopez went to third on a flyout to right field and then scored on a wild pitch by COC pitcher Megan Wilson.
“I was proud of that, too, because my base running is not the strongest,” Gomez-Lopez said with a laugh. “I’m not even worried about hitting. I have so much confidence hitting. It’s, ‘Ugh, if I hit, I have to base run.’”
Gomez-Lopez finished 1-for-1 with the RBI double, two walks, a run and a stolen base.
“She’s really come a long way,” Vargas said. “We’ve been really working on her swing. She came in with a good swing and now she’s getting a great swing. She’s been getting some clutch hits for us.”
Camrynn Stanbro started AVC’s rally in the fourth inning, striking out but advancing on a dropped third strike. She was replaced by pinch runner Alyssa Tami, who showed her speed by scoring from first on a triple to right field by Arroyo.
Syann Winbush brought home Arroyo with an RBI groundout to put the Marauders up 4-0.
Isabelle Gomez led off the fifth inning with a single to left and was sacrificed to second by Jessica Munoz. Gomez came home on a two-out, RBI single by Cronin.
“She’s been on fire lately,” Vargas said about Cronin. “We’ve been resting her because of her arm, trying to save her for conference, and she’s just beast right now.”
COC’s Post was 2-for-4 with a double, while Wilson allowed five runs, three earned, on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts in six innings.
The schedule doesn’t slow down for the Marauders, who will play a non-conference doubleheader against Bakersfield at home on Saturday before a makeup conference game at Barstow on Monday, conference games at Glendale and L.A. Valley on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, and two games in the Ventura Tournament next Saturday.
“It’s been a tough schedule, but all I can say is my team is battling right now,” Vargas said. “I’m really proud of them.”