NORTHWEST GLENDALE — A dominant pitching performance from Christina Iezza and an aggressive approach on the base paths were all the Hoover High softball team needed to post a 10-0 five-inning Pacific League win over rival Glendale on Thursday.
The Tornadoes’ bounty of runs came on just six hits, as the Nitros’ five errors provided much of the fuel for the scoring. The first three runs of the ballgame were unearned, as were four of the seven Hoover scored in the bottom of the fifth to activate the mercy rule.
“The sign of a good team is take advantage [of errors],” Hoover Coach Rich Henning said. “If someone gives you a present, you say thank you and take it.
“We took advantage of their mistakes and that was probably the turning point of the game.”
Iezza allowed just three hits and struck out eight to no walks, while also going two for three with a run batted in.
Her counterpart, Glendale’s Casey Ramirez gave up four hits and allowed no earned runs, but didn’t receive the support, either offensive or defensive, that Iezza enjoyed. Ramirez was relieved by Kristi Cabana to begin the fifth, when the Nitros committed three errors.
“I had to pull [Ramirez] and put [Cabana] in, she did well but the defense just couldn’t pick it up for her,” Glendale Coach Christine Paknik said. “That’s not gonna win ballgames. Our defense is holding us back, plus, if you don’t score any runs. ...I’ve got girls’ throwing good games on the mound, but it snowballs very easily.”
Iezza led off the bottom of the second inning with a ground ball single up the middle. She was replaced on the base paths by Kenya Buckley, who stole second and moved to third on a bunt single by Karissah Garcia.
Buckley put Hoover ahead, 1-0, on a throwing error by the catcher that skipped up the left-field foul line.
In the top of the third inning, Glendale’s Melissa Archey led off with a double, but was called out for leaving second base too early, costing the Nitros a chance to have possibly tied the game when Meghan Spencer singled with two outs.
Glendale (2-3 in league) also got its leadoff runner aboard in the fourth inning on a fielding error, but again couldn’t get the runner around.
Hoover (2-3 in league) made it 3-0 in the bottom of the frame when Kaitlyn Williams singled to lead off the inning, Vanessa Dorado singled with one out and both scored on a fielder’s choice throwing error on a ground ball hit by Garcia.
“Not a lot of hits on our side, but we showed good discipline at bat and they were still aggressive,” Henning said. “I liked our baserunning.”
Hoover blew the game open in the fifth, sending 12 batters to the plate, starting with back-to-back walks drawn by Anarosa Aguirre and Briana Manzanero.
Aguirre scored on an error before Manzanero and Natalie Barcena came home on a double by Williams (two for three). Iezza singled in Williams to keep the rally going with no outs.
Cabana would record the first two outs of the inning on strikeouts, the second with the bases loaded, but the final two runs would cross the plate on a bases-loaded illegal pitch on a full count to Manzanero and a wild pitch that allowed Jessica Perez to score the game-ending run from third.