GROSS PARK — The Bellarmine-Jefferson High softball team continued its dominance over Santa Cruz league opponents with another resounding effort Wednesday afternoon.
The Guards also kept up their recent habit of scoring more than 20 runs a game, as they put up a 25-spot against St. Matthias to remain undefeated in league play and extend their winning streak to nine games.
Fueled by 11 runs in a first inning that saw Bell-Jeff send 17 batters to the plate, the Guards' pitching and defense remained solid in a 25-3 victory at Gross Park over second-place St. Matthias.
In five league victories thus far, the Guards have outscored their Santa Cruz opponents, 106-8, and are in the driver's seat to win their second straight league championship.
"We're pretty confident," Bell-Jeff Coach John Castaneda said. "We know the goal is to make long run in the Division VII playoffs, so we want to continue playing at a high level against tough competition."
St. Matthias (5-13, 3-2 in league) didn't do itself any favors with eight walks in the first. Bell-Jeff's Sofia Palacios did her part in making the Victorians pay with four runs batted in the inning, including a two-run home run that put the Guards — ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division VII — up, 5-2.
The freshman slugger put a stamp on the early onslaught with a two-run single that plated Jaylen Waton and Priscilla Panizo for the comfortable 11-2 cushion. Waton and Panizo reached on a walk and on an error, respectively.
"I'd be lying if I said I was surprised, but that's because we work hard," said Castaneda, who saw his squad improve to 5-0 and 14-4 overall. "We're taking it one game at a time knowing that the task at hand is to get to the CIF finals."
Earlier in the first inning, Bell-Jeff starting pitcher Jackie Pons helped herself at the plate with a two-run double.
The two hits from Palacios and the double from Pons were the only hits in the frame, as walks, along with mishaps on the field, aided in the Guards' rally.
"I've been working hard on every pitch of every at-bat in practice trying to get better," said Palacios who finished the day with four hits.
Predictably, St. Matthias starter Sandra Romero didn't make it to the second inning. The defense behind her committed three errors in the inning .
Pons gave up two runs in the top half of the first inning on two solo home runs by Loera and Aileen Bojorquez, but settled down and gave up three runs before getting pulled for Amanda Malouf with two outs in the fourth inning.
"I just take it pitch by pitch, and try to not think about it too much or else I'll get rattled," Pons said. "I know they're going to hit off me, so I just try to keep the ball down."
Monique Landini went three for three with three RBI for the Guards.