Fountain Valley softball pulls away late in pivotal game against Edison

Fountain Valley's Ella Kim (9) claps toward the dugout as she stands on second base with a two-run double against Edison.
Fountain Valley’s Ella Kim (9) claps toward the dugout as she stands on second base with a two-run double against Edison on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

With the top two spots in the Sunset League likely spoken for in softball, a three-team race is breaking out for the two promised playoff berths remaining.

A nine-run sixth inning saw Fountain Valley beat host Edison 11-1 on Tuesday, as the Barons won a key battle in that fight.

Third-place Fountain Valley (11-10, 6-3 in the Sunset League) separated itself from Edison (7-11, 3-4), which dropped into a tie for fourth place with Marina (14-7-1, 3-4). The Barons finished off a sweep of the Chargers, having won the first meeting 10-3 at home on March 8.

Fountain Valley first baseman Makenzie Butt (98) runs after a foul ball against Edison on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Los Alamitos (16-5, 8-0) and Huntington Beach (13-6, 8-1) hold down the top two positions in the league standings, the drama to build if both teams can win until they meet again in the season finale on April 23 at the Oilers’ field.

“I let them know there in that last inning, ‘You guys have to want this more than they do because if you win, you’re in, and if you lose, there’s a good chance you’re out,’” Fountain Valley coach Rick Aldrich said. “All the seniors that we have, I don’t think you want to end it here today, and they responded.”

A patchwork quilt would be an appropriate description for the Barons’ lineup. Pitcher Courtney Kols has dealt with a shoulder issue and they remain without the services of outfielder Delaney Mondino.

Edison's Elina Garcia (21) winds up to pitch against Fountain Valley on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Barons had help along the way, errors aiding solo runs in the first and third innings. That theme continued in the big sixth inning, in which the Chargers committed three more miscues in the field.

It was then that sophomore catcher Ella Kim was able to take advantage. Coming off a long single that one-hopped the wall in right during her previous at-bat, Kim again got full extension on an outside pitch and drove it into the gap in right, scoring two with the bases loaded.

“My pitch selection is something I worked on for a while,” Kim said. “I knew what pitch I wanted to hit, and when I got it, I swung at it. I knew I should keep my swing under control, not try to hit home runs because that’s not how home runs are hit, and when I came up with the bases loaded, I knew the most important thing was to score the run.”

Edison's Sophia Hannappel (41) stops a hard ground ball to third against Fountain Valley on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Fountain Valley had stretched its lead to more than one run for the first time on the afternoon, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. Kileigh Villalobos scored two with a single two batters later, followed by run-scoring hits by Marissa Sardinas, Samantha Sameshima and Samantha Estrada.

Senior first baseman Makenzie Butt, bound for Boise State, capped the scoring with a towering two-run home run to left field, her 11th homer of the season and eighth in eight games.

“I think a lot of us, we knew not to take them lightly because you never know what could happen,” Butt said. “At the same time, we had that confidence in ourselves, and it picked up towards the end of the game in the sixth inning. I’m glad it did.”

Fountain Valley's Samantha Estrada (25) runs in to score against Edison on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Edison scored its lone run in the second inning. Rhiannon Godley doubled to drive in Leia Villavicencio, who had led off the inning with a single.

Estrada scattered three hits and two walks across the final four innings

“She’s such a great teammate,” Kim said of Estrada. “She’s always picking up everyone around her. I love her aura on the field. I feel motivated to work for her, especially when she’s giving me the same kind of energy back.”

Fountain Valley's Samantha Sameshima finds Edison's Kaila Arakaki (42) right over her shoulder as she is run down.
Fountain Valley’s Samantha Sameshima finds Edison’s Kaila Arakaki (42) right over her shoulder as she is run down between bases.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

There was a nervousness about the game, both teams appearing to attempt to make things happen and running themselves out of scoring opportunities on the base paths. The Chargers also had Sienna Rievley and Amanda Johansen reach base safely to begin the third, but they failed to produce a run after Sara Witt advanced the runners with a bunt.

“We were in the game until the sixth inning,” Edison coach Mandee Farish said. “Unfortunately, we just kind of ran ourselves into some outs on the bases. It’s been a year, and it’s been a year of battling back and forth. We’ve been in some really close games.

“It’s just unfortunate that things didn’t go our way, but we still have a couple games left that maybe we can make some things happen and turn it around.”

Fountain Valley's Kileigh Villalobos (15) attempts to turn a double play against Edison on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)