LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — It took a while for the Flintridge Prep softball team to get a feel for the timing of Providence starting pitcher Natalie Kasbarian.
Once it did, the result was a five-run sixth inning, as the Rebels broke open a tie ballgame.
That outburst was just enough to withstand a furious seventh-inning comeback attempt by the Pioneers, who fell one run short in the Rebels’ 9-8 nonleague win on Friday afternoon at Flintridge Prep.
“These girls have been working real hard, and what I like is that it was a total team effort,” Rebels Coach Julie Jaime said. "[Providence] scoring four and taking the wind out of our sails always hurts, but the bottom line is that we finished.”
Prep starter Lydia Kay (2-1) got the win, but not before giving back all but one of the five runs her team had just put up to take a 9-4 lead.
In the seventh, Pioneers first baseman Karina Ford led off with a single and made her way to third base on back-to-back wild pitches. Following a hit batter, a walk and a single, the bases were loaded with just one out.
After a bases-loaded walk brought in the Pioneers’ first run of the inning, Kasbarian singled in two more runs.
A ground ball to short for a fielder’s choice putout scored another run to bring Providence to within one. Kay, however, was able to field Ariane Lebrilla’s grounder with the tying run at third for the final out.
"[The seventh] was really hard at first, but I know that our defense is there and I just need to throw it up the middle and everyone will have my back,” said Kay, who struck out seven, but struggled with her control in walking five batters and hitting five more.
Kasbarian kept the Rebels off balance with her tantalizingly slow delivery, allowing just two earned runs on four hits before the fateful sixth inning.
“After the first run around [the order], we saw what [Kasbarain] had and we were able to connect better with her,” said Rebels shortstop Mary McCluggage, who had two hits, scored twice and drove in two runs with a two-out triple in the sixth. “I think we were all really eager to get a hit.”
Too eager perhaps, as the Rebels saw just eight pitches from Kasbarian over the first two hitless innings.
The Rebels made 10 first-pitch outs in the game and with runners on first and second with no outs in the fifth, they hit into three outs on three straight pitches.
“We had a lot of anxiousness in the beginning, and that let momentum swing their way a little bit,” Jaime said. “We put the ball in play and made them field a little bit and didn’t continue to let those 1-2-3 innings happen.”
Kay led off the sixth with a double, and was driven in by catcher Kari Van Horn to begin the two-out, five-run rally.