Hoover makes Providence pay for free passes

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — The Hoover High softball team knew that in order to win Saturday's game against Providence, it had to just remain patient.

The Tornadoes saw the Pioneers struggle in the circle and were issued one walk after another on a blistering afternoon that tested Hoover's discipline at the plate.

Hoover walked 18 times — including eight times on four pitches — en route to defeating the visiting Pioneers, 21-7, in the second game of a nonleague doubleheader. The game was called in the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.

"I'm proud of my girls for not swinging at bad pitches," Tornado Coach Rich Henning said. "I'm proud of my girls for staying disciplined. That's hard to do."

The first inning was a sign of things to come.

Seven of Hoover's first nine batters walked, as the Tornadoes (5-7) scored 10 runs while sending 14 batters to the plate. Leadoff hitter Kenya Buckley, who was hit by the second pitch of the game, scored two of her three runs in the inning and also drove in a pair of runs with a single to left.

During one stretch, Providence walked five straight batters on 22 pitches. Lulu Multini, Melissa Garcia, Kamaria Buckley and Briana Manzanero each walked with the bases loaded in the inning.

Providence starting pitcher Sierra Nelson, a freshman, lasted a third of an inning, walking four batters and allowing five earned runs.

"She was coming off a right knee injury," Providence Coach Joel Curtis said. "She wasn't quite ready. They are definitely better than they played."

Providence's struggles allowed Hoover to continue to score at ease in the third.

Hoover sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning and eight walked on four, five, or six pitches, allowing for a career day for several Tornadoes. Kamaria Buckley and Manzanero scored three runs apiece, and Natalie Barcena scored twice, as did Teresa Martinez, Kaitlyn Williams, Multini and Garcia.

"We played strong from the beginning to the end," Manzanero said. "But it was hard to be patient because we had to wait for the ball."

Manzanero pitched a complete game for the Tornadoes, allowing seven hits, walking three and striking out five. Jackie Brewer had a pair of runs for the Pioneers (7-9), and Caitie Guttry, Bronwyn Stewart, Natalie Ficocelli, Amber Bartmus and Nelson each scored once.

The Tornadoes hope to build on the win when they resume Pacific League play Thursday against Burbank High at McCambridge Park.

"This could be a very nice team," Henning said. "We have a number of girls who could hit for power. We have a bunch of girls who could run the bases. We have hitting and speed. It's a matter of putting it together to have a solid game for seven innings."

Manzanero said it would take a team effort for the Tornadoes to succeed.

"Teamwork and communication," Manzanero said, "that's what it's going to take to get us into the playoffs."

In the first game of the doubleheader, Hoover bested Providence, 7-0.

Kenya Buckley and Kaitlyn Williams each scored twice and Williams, a sophomore, also had two hits, as did junior Katie Gates. Gates, Teresa Martinez and Manzanero each scored once.

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