OLIVE PARK — The Providence High softball has been involved in its share of blowouts this season, both on the winning and losing ends. In fact, just two of the Pioneers’ games have been close.
Along with suffering 18-, 17- and 14-run losses, Providence has also notched a 21-run victory and a nine-run victory.
Going against Lancaster Dessert Christian on Thursday in a nonleague game at Olive Park, the early indication was the Pioneers were going to absorb another lopsided loss after falling behind by four runs in the top of the first inning.
However, Providence turned things around and just the opposite took place. Getting a boost from their relief pitcher and taking advantage of an erratic outing in the circle by the Knights’ starter, the Pioneers battled back to earn a 20-9 victory.
The game was halted in the sixth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Providence Coach Joel Curtis said the youth of his team that includes five seniors — two who have never played before — is probably the reason why the Pioneers have been involved in so many blowouts.
“Today’s game is a perfect example of some of the games we’ve been involved in this season,” Curtis said. “We gave up four runs on no hits in the first inning and four runs … in the second. But we were able to put things together and we were able to shut them down for the most part the rest of the way.”
With a team that features seven freshmen, Curtis said he is not putting a lot of pressure on the players, as he tries to bring the newcomers up to speed.
“We try to stay positive, positive all the time,” he said. “We try to look at the good things that happen and focus on those things. If a girl strikes out her first two at-bats and then grounds out on her third appearance, then we look at that as a positive step forward.”
Providence (3-6) dug itself an early hole to open the game. Sophomore starting pitcher Sierra Nelson had trouble finding the strike zone in the first inning, as she issued three walks. Her defense didn’t do her any favors, either, as two errors in the infield helped pave the way to a 4-0 Desert Christian (0-7) lead.
But the Pioneers responded in their half of the first, bringing 11 players to the plate and pushing across five runs. The run production was highlighted by a two-run scoring double by Gian-Mari Llaguno and a single by Jackie Brewer
Brewer, a senior second baseman who went three for four with a two-run home run, two runs batted in, four runs scored and a walk, said the Pioneers never get discouraged when they fall behind.
“I just try and pump everybody up so we can get back in the game and hopefully win — like we did today,” she said.
Senior Caitie Guttry, who is coming back after a foot injury, took over in the circle in the second inning. She didn’t fair much better, giving up four hits to the Knights, who tacked on four runs to take an 8-5 advantage. The Pioneers committed two more errors in the frame.
But after the second inning, Guttry settled down, giving up just one run and one hit over the next three innings.
Providence scored two runs in the second inning and six more in the third to jump in front, 13-7. The Pioneers added five additional runs in the fourth and two in the sixth.
Providence took full advantage of Desert Christian starting pitcher Abbey Brower, who experienced control problems. Brower pitched six innings, walking 17, surrendering 10 hits and uncorking 12 wild pitches.
Llaguno went three for four with two RBI, a walk and three runs scored and Estelle Glorioso was two for three with a walk, a RBI and three runs scored.
“We were able to hit the ball well and I thought we did a good job at running the bases,” Curtis said. “We are improving.”