BURBANK — It couldn't have gone much worse for the Providence High softball team in the top of the fifth inning.
The Pioneers were in complete control of the game against Avalon, up eight runs heading into the fifth, when everything fell apart. The Lancers scored 21 runs in their half of the fifth, sending 26 batters to the plate en route to a 23-12 victory via the mercy rule Saturday morning at Olive Park.
"I could imagine a worse [inning], but that was pretty bad," said Providence Coach Joel Curtis, who saw his team fall to 3-7-1 after playing Avalon to a 10-10 tie Friday.
The nightmare inning all started with a solo homer from Avalon's Rocky Sillas.
Everything snowballed from there, as two straight walks and an error loaded the bases. Four more walks and another error cut the deficit to two, 10-8, and kept the bases loaded for Sillas, who was far from done, as she tripled in all three runners to give the Lancers (4-2-1) an 11-10 lead.
"I think [that lead-off homer] rattled their pitcher," Avalon Coach Ahlea Hooikaika said. "[Sillas] is really good and that's why she's our captain. She pulls through for everybody."
Curtis made a pitching change, but it yielded the same results, as the Pioneers walked 16 batters — eight with the bases loaded — and committed four errors in the inning, which only included five hits.
"[Our pitchers] maybe tried to aim it a little bit, which is understandable, especially when you're running out of gas," Curtis said. "When you're running out of gas, it's hard to keep your form."
Hooikaika was impressed with the Lancers' patience at the plate.
"Today they waited on everything and it led to a lot of walks" she said. "We made sure they knew a walk was as good as a hit."
It spoiled a strong start by Providence, which took a 3-0 lead in the first inning when Jackie Brewer singled in two runs. The Pioneers pushed their lead to 7-0 on two hits, an error, a walk and hit by pitch in the second inning, as Brewer singled home another run.
Avalon first got on the board in the top of the third when Vanessa Sanchez hit a line drive to left field that was misplayed, allowing Sanchez and Nickey Kennedy, who reached on a lead-off walk, to come around to score.
Estelle Glorioso (three for three with five runs batted in) padded Providence's lead when she hit a bases-loaded triple in the third to increase the lead to 10-2.
"Early on it was great and that's the thing, we have a good core of girls and we're looking forward to league play," Curtis said. "We're allowing games like this to get this out of our system."