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May 26, 2022

Cougars inch closer to league crown | High school softball

SLV to play at Soquel in potential deciding game on Friday at 4:30pm

The San Lorenzo Valley High softball team is on the cusp of bringing back home a Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League title for the first time in 12 years.

But in order to have a chance they had to get past rival Scotts Valley.

It was up to junior pitcher Amelia Sizemore to get the job done. She recorded five strikeouts and the shutout for the Cougars in a 5-0 win over the Falcons in league play on Tuesday.

“It was pretty big, just taking it one game at a time,” Sizemore said about picking up the victory.

SLV coach Mark Brown said they didn’t play to their full potential and even when it looked ugly, they still played good defense.

“I thought we could play better but it is what it is,” he said. “It’s still a win.” 

Brown said each win in league play is important, especially since SLV is still in the hunt for at least a share of the league title.

The Cougars will have a showdown at Soquel High (9-3-1, 8-1) on Friday at 4:30pm. 

The Knights have to play four games this week including two make-up games. They beat Aptos High, 22-1, on Tuesday and will follow up with games against Scotts Valley (4-11, 2-7), Santa Cruz High (0-11, 0-9) and the regular season finale against the Cougars (15-6, 9-2).

“Now that we got through this one, the next one’s the biggest one that we’ll have for this season,” Brown said. “We’ve been talking about it and the kids are learning how to play, they just have to play well.” 

The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Alyssa Struthers reached home plate after a wild pitch that went past the catcher. 

Sizmore looked solid from the get-go and she also got plenty of help from the defense.

“A lot of my pitches were working in the beginning, especially the screw ball,” she said. “Towards the middle I started losing it, all my pitches stopped working but I just got it back together and focused.”

In the fourth inning, Scotts Valley had the tying run on third base. But the base runner was called out after Jori Fields-Rapley caught the force out at first and threw it to Jersey Collins, who made the tag out at home to prevent the game-tying score.

The Falcons threatened to put up the tying run again in the following frame, but Sizemore got out of the jam once again.

The Cougars also left a couple of runners stranded on base thanks to some outstanding defense from the Falcons.

“That’s not like us, we’re usually a pretty good hitting team but you know what, there’s ups and downs,” Brown said.

Angie Fulkerson’s lead off double in the sixth inning got the Cougars out of their funk. Erika Kindred’s single then moved Fulkerson to third.

Anaya Sutcliffe hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Fulkerson to score and Kindred reached home plate on a wild pitch that went past the catcher, extending SLV’s lead to 3-0.

Bella Reynolds said she was having a hard time at the plate for the past couple of weeks, including Tuesday’s game against the Falcons. 

“[Alysa Harrington] is really, really good in a sense that she’s a lot slower and she can hit her spots really well,” she said. “A lot of pop-ups, a lot of ground outs, that’s just tough. But as soon as we can nail down that ball, no one can beat us.” 

Reynolds sealed the deal with a two-run home run—her seventh this season—in the sixth inning, helping the Cougars inch closer to at least a share of the SCCAL title.

Reynolds said getting the win was crucial considering the Cougars just lost to Soquel High on April 28, which bumped them from being tied in first place with the Knights.

“But this win was really big because I think we needed it,” she said. “I think it was a good opportunity for us to boost our confidence and find our game again, and then we can get on Soquel again.”

Reynolds said they can’t be too back on their heels going into Friday’s pivotal game against Soquel. 

SLV jumped out to an early lead in that second meeting only to watch Soquel pull away for the win. 

“We just need to stay up, stay positive, stay hard and that’s all we really need,” she said.  

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