BURBANK — It was a battle of the Liberty League's top two teams, as well as the two most potent offenses in the league, when the Providence High softball team took on Faith Baptist on Thursday.
While the Pioneers entered the contest averaging a league-best 19.5 runs in four games, the Contenders averaged nearly 16 runs in five games.
However, while there wasn't a big discrepancy in the team's offensive numbers, the defensive numbers were vastly different, as Faith Baptist surrendered only two runs in its five games and Providence gave up 27.
The Contenders' ability to limit their opponent's offense came into play Thursday when they held the Pioneers to just one hit. That helped Faith Baptist earn a 10-0 victory against Providence at Olive Park.
The contest was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
The win secured at least a share of the league championship for Faith Baptist (14-10, 6-0 in league). The Contenders have just one game remaining against Santa Clarita Christian on Tuesday, a team they have already defeated, 16-1.
The Pioneers (6-11, 4-1) can clinch second place in league and have two more games remaining against Trinity Classical Academy and Pacifica Christian. It would mark the second straight season the Pioneers have finished runner-up in league.
The Pioneers have been able to be competitive in league this season despite having a team that includes 14 freshmen and sophomores.
"We knew they were going to be a tough team," Providence Coach Joel Curtis said about Faith Baptist. "The ball also bounced their way a little bit today and that certainly didn't help us at all.
"We did fall behind early and when you're as young as we are it's kind of hard to stay up and try and get over that."
The Pioneers had no answer for Faith Baptist starting pitcher Kayla Limphaibule. The right-hanger gave up just one hit, struck out seven and walked one in going the distance.
The only hit the Pioneers could manage came from their leadoff hitter in the first inning when Estelle Glorioso roped a double down the left-field line. Providence looked to be in good shape with a runner in scoring position with no outs. However, the next batter, Fabi Jimenez, powered a sharp grounder toward the hole between second and third and the ball took a hop and hit a running Glorioso, eliminating the runner.
Limphaibule then induced a strikeout and an easy roller to first to get out of the jam.
"That's just unlucky for us in that situation," Curtis said. "Here we lead off with a double and she gets hit on the bases. We were hoping we would have been able to score there."
The only other baserunner the Pioneers could muster came in the third inning when Allison Menendez walked with one out. She stole second and went to third on a passed ball. However, Providence couldn't bring her home, as a foul out down the first-base line and a strikeout stranded her.
Faith Baptist put early pressure on the Pioneers by bringing 10 batters to the plate and pushing across four runs on four hits in the second inning.
The Contenders added two runs in the fourth inning and added four more in the fifth.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Pioneers are hoping to finish strong and get ready for the playoffs.
"With a couple of more games to go, we're looking at this loss as something that will help us and hopefully make us better," Glorioso said.