LOS ANGELES — Often times when a coach describes the state of his team as “a work in progress” or being in “a rebuilding process”, it’s safe to expect some losing to be involved.
This time around, though, Hoover High softball Coach Rich Henning was assessing his undefeated Tornadoes after a 16-0 win over Sotomayor on Wednesday afternoon.
Thanks to a lengthy 11-run third inning in which Hoover (3-0) nearly batted around the order twice, the game ended after four innings per the mercy rule.
Henning’s players executed on all levels despite missing two of their three captains — Anjel Bonilla and Jenesy Gonzalez.
Junior Karina Moreno, the third captain, paced Hoover from the leadoff spot with three hits, three runs and a run batted in. Five Hoover players recorded multiple hits and all nine starters scored at least one run against Sotomayor (1-1).
Freshman pitcher Evelyn Unger gave up two hits, one walk one hit by pitch and stranded three runners as part of her first-ever shutout.
The defense committed just one error and turned a rare triple play in the second inning. With two runners on, shortstop Alex Mendoza caught a hard line drive from Sotomayor pitcher Brittany Kennedy, stepped on second base and fired to first before the base runners could react.
“I was really pleased with the way they attacked the ball,” Henning said. “They put the ball in play consistently all day. Our pitching was pretty good. Defensively we didn't make any mistakes. When you do all three of those things, you usually come out on top.”
The feat becomes all the more impressive when looking at the lack of experience on Henning’s roster. Moreno was Hoover’s only returning varsity player in the lineup. Add the two captains back into the mix and Hoover has just three girls with varsity experience.
Hence the rebuilding talk.
“We graduated nine seniors last year, so it's essentially a brand new team,” Henning said. “On top of it, we have two freshman pitchers that are going to be leading the way for us. It's a learning experience for most of these girls.”
Recording 13 hits as a team was important to Moreno.
“We do lots of hitting practice so we should be hitting,” Moreno said. “It's changed a lot since the beginning of the season. In fall ball, earlier in the year, we weren't doing well at all and now it's changed so much.”
The Tornadoes wasted no time, as five of the first six batters singled in the top of the first inning as Hoover jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
Things got out of hand when Hoover scored all 11 runs in the third inning with two outs. The Tornadoes were beneficiaries of some timely struggles by the Wolves. Seran Krikorian and Jackie Villasenor received back-to-back walks. Lorraine Verdin followed with a single to load the bases and Briana Pineda reached on a bunt single to bring Krikorian home.
The visitors rattled off three more RBI singles before Sotomayor made two errors to extend the inning. Fifteen batters stepped to the plate before the third inning ended.
Although it’s still early in the season and Sotomayor won all of five games last year, Henning was pleased with his squad’s effort.
“Any win is a good win,” Henning said. “If we get consistent pitching, hitting and defense maybe we'll surprise a few teams this year. I’m really happy with the result.”
Moreno, Krikorian and Diana Ascencio each reached base in all four of their trips to the plate.