BURBANK — It’s been a struggle this season in the Prep League for the Flintridge Prep and Providence High softball teams.
Flintridge Prep has been a mainstay in the league for many years, while Providence joined the league this season after previously competing in the Liberty League.
With both squads looking to get on track, the Rebels and Pioneers met Tuesday in the first of two head-to-head meetings.
Behind a huge performance from catalyst Melissa Grande, who finished with two hits, four runs batted in and four runs scored, visiting Flintridge Prep rolled to a 17-4 win at Olive Park. The game was called after the fifth inning.
“Coming into the game, we thought we had the potential to come in and dominate,” said Grande, a reigning All-Area and All-CIF honoree who helped Flintridge Prep advance to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division VII playoffs last season. “I knew I just needed to be confident at the plate and just help set the tone.
“I thought we got off to a very good start and we were able to go from there. It’s just nice to get a win.”
Flintridge Prep (3-9, 2-6 in league) scored three runs in the first inning, followed by two in the second, six in the third, one in the fourth and five in the fifth to topple Providence (1-11, 0-8).
While the Rebels have more depth and experience than the Pioneers, there’s potential for the teams to build a rivalry in future seasons.
“It’s nice to be able to go out there and play new competition and have a new team like Providence in the league,” Flintridge Prep coach Julie Mejia said. “Providence is a quality school.”
Libby Penn gave Flintridge Prep a first-inning 2-0 lead with a two-run triple and Yasmine White followed with a single to extend the lead to 3-0.
Grande hit a two-run inside-the-park home run in the second to give the Rebels a 5-0 lead.
“Melissa is an excellent lead-off hitter and she really helped set the tone early on,” Mejia said. “She’s just a fabulous athlete and she can do so many things well out there.”
Grande had a two-run single in the third to make it 9-0 and Olivia Stevens had a two-run triple later in the inning to make it 11-0.
Providence scored all of its runs in the third to cut the deficit to 11-4.
Rebecca Cox had a bases-loaded infield single to make it 11-1. Kayla Viteri followed with an RBI-single to pull the Pioneers to within 11-2.
After a bases-loaded walk to Gabriella Martinez, Providence made it 11-4 on a ground-out by Hailey Jackson.
“I liked the way we were able to battle with our at-bats in the third inning,” Providence first-year coach Frankie Garcia said. “It was just nice to see them come through and show some resiliency like that.
“We’re working hard at trying to get better and I do see our players making improvements. It’s a young team and we have just one senior. I think we have a good future and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Georgina Yamamoto drove in a run with a double in the fourth to make it 12-4.
The Rebels, who took fourth in league last season, received run-scoring hits in the fifth from Penn, Emma Stellar and White to seal the victory.
Flintridge Prep got three hits and three runs batted in apiece from Penn and White.
Providence received two hits from Martinez.
Providence and Flintridge Prep will meet again at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Flintridge Prep.