Bell-Jeff softball struggles in season opener

LAKE BALBOA — The Bellarmine-Jefferson High softball coaches wanted the team to play a tough nonleague schedule in order to have it prepared for Santa Cruz League and CIF Southern Section competition.

That's why the coaches scheduled Harvard-Westlake, even though the Wolverines play in Division III and the Guards play in Division VI. Last season, a game between the two squads ended in a tie.

However, Bell-Jeff faced Harvard-Westlake on Tuesday to open its season depleted. Several Guards are banged up with injuries and their star pitcher is academically ineligible.

The result wasn't a good one for Bell-Jeff, as it struggled and was easily defeated by the Wolverines, 14-1.

The game was halted in the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.

"The girls were really affected in the game and they were looking ahead to when is this player going to return or when is that player going to return for us," Bell-Jeff Coach Florencio Galindo said. "And when they fell behind, they just put in their head that they needed this girl or that girl to be successful."

The Guards were looking to step up their competition after winning the Santa Cruz League championship last season and advancing to the Division VII title game for the second-straight year. Bell-Jeff is currently ranked No. 3 in Division VI in the latest poll.

"When we made this schedule, we didn't know that we were going to be missing players and have players hurt," Galindo said. "With our pitching, we're just putting things together like patchwork."

Missing because of grades was junior pitcher Mia Acosta, who was All-CIF, All-Area and the league player of the year in the circle last season.

Without a dominant hurler, Harvard-Westlake (3-1) feasted on the Bell-Jeff pitching. In all, the Wolverines collected 15 hits and scored at least three runs in all four of its innings.

The Guards were able to break up the shutout, however, with a single run in the fourth inning. Chrstina Colon reached base on an infield hit and moved over to second on a fielder's choice by Sam Casarez. Colon scored after a base hit to right field by Sophia Palacios.

Bell-Jeff also had a chance to score in the second inning. After Casarez walked, she tried to score on an error, but she was thrown out at the plate.

The only other hit mustered by Bell-Jeff was a double in the first inning by Monique Landini.

"A bad loss like this, there are always things you can take out of it," said Landini, who is headed to St. John's. "We need to work harder in practice, communicate better and work on our hitting."

The Wolverines jumped out in front with four runs in the first inning. They added four more in the second, three in the third and three more in the fourth.

Pitcher Maddy Kaplan got the win in the three-hitter, striking out four in four innings.

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