LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Even with the new rule change in place, Flintridge Prep softball pitcher Denise van der Goot proved she could make the proper adjustments and dominate.
This is the first season the pitching rubber has been moved back three feet to 43 feet, which will likely be a benefit for hitters. Local pitchers are adapting to the longer dimensions, including van der Goot.
She struck out 12 Wednesday afternoon to help host Flintridge Prep pick up an 8-5 season-opening nonleague victory against neighbor Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.
"[The new dimension] doesn't make any difference to me," said van der Goot, who struck out two batters in every inning but the sixth. "I practiced hard over the summer to get used to it, and I felt confident [Wednesday].
"I went out there testing what pitches I thought could work. My curve ball was my best pitch."
The senior also took advantage of some early run support before the Tologs (2-1) mounted a late comeback bid in the sixth and seventh.
Flintridge Prep Coach Julie Jaime said van der Goot had enough stamina to complete the game.
"She was in a groove out there and she handled the transition smoothly," said Jaime, whose team finished with 12 hits. "She went out there, worked hard, and she knows what she's doing."
It took the Tologs a long time to figure out van der Goot, something that perplexed Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Kirk Nishiyama.
"We are not playing with any confidence and their pitcher is good," Nishiyama said. "We made her look real good and we were swinging with no confidence [in the first five innings].
"We went up there chasing pitches. We talked before the game about having a plan at the plate. We followed that and got our confidence when it was too late. We've got to believe in ourselves when we step on the field."
The Rebels, who qualified for the playoffs last season, scored two runs off Flintridge Sacred Heart starting pitcher Alex Eaton (2-1) in the first. Third baseman Abbey Deckop came through with a run-scoring single to make it 1-0 and extended the lead to 2-0 on an error.
Flintridge Prep got a run-scoring double to left by Deckop to make it 3-0 in the second. Gina Crissman made it 4-0 on a groundout in the third and Ashley Kim gave the Rebels a 5-0 lead with a run-scoring single in the fourth.
Kim finished with a game-high four hits and teammate Sydney Golombek added three.
The Tologs scored twice in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-2. Alanna Pires hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1 and the Tologs then scored on a van der Goot wild pitch.
Flintridge Prep scored three runs in its half of the sixth, sparked by a run-scoring single from Golombek to make it 6-2.
Both teams competed without starters. The Tologs played without infielders Alyssa Conti and Lauren Torres. The duo are members of the school's soccer team, which won the CIF Southern Section Division I championship and is now trying to repeat as CIF Division III Regional champion.
The Rebels were without starting catcher Charlotte Kay, who suffered a fractured finger during practice two weeks ago. Jaime said the Rebels hope to get Kay back in May.