GLENDALE — When the Glendale Community College softball team last saw L.A. Mission College, the Eagles swept the Vaqueros in a doubleheader with pitcher Kelsey Christopherson dealing a no-hitter in the finale.
While it was a tough blow for GCC, its confidence wasn’t shaken when the two teams faced off again in a Western State Conference Blue Division game Tuesday at the Glendale Sports Complex. The Vaqueros snapped a three-game losing streak with a solid all-around performance in the circle and at the plate that produced an 8-3 win.
It is Kelsie Ange’s line that jumps off the stat book in the game, as the freshman center fielder fell just a double shy of the cycle in a three-for-three day that included a grand-slam, a three-run scoring triple and an infield single.
“Kelsie had seven RBI, what can you say about her? She came in huge and our pitching came in huge,” said GCC Coach Dave “Hawk” Wilder, highlighting the performance of Katie Bakhshian, who earned the complete-game victory. “Their two best hitters [Christopherson and Monique Guzman] that are two and three in the Western Conference [in batting average] went one for eight. When you’re doing that, you can beat anybody.”
While hopes are the victory might be a turning point for Glendale (14-14, 4-6 in conference), it may be too late at this point. The Vaqueros are sixth in their division and will need to win out with 10 games left in the regular season to even have a hope at the playoffs, Wilder said.
As usual, Wilder praised not only the all-around effort from the team but the coaching staff, with GCC assistant infield coach George Dumais and outfield coach Sal Pizzo helping the team click Tuesday.
“It just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it and really play,” said Wilder, whose team had seven hits off Christopherson and also drew three walks. “I don’t think we’ve really played the way we can with these freshmen. Today, we played like the team I thought we had at the very start.”
Ange found herself up with the bases loaded twice Tuesday. In the bottom of the first inning with two outs, it was up to her to jump-start the Vaqueros, who’d been struggling, and she did just that when she whipped a ball over the head of L.A. Mission's right fielder and cruised into third for a stand-up triple that put GCC up, 4-2.
“I feel like I do better under pressure, like when the bases are loaded and I know I have to bring them in,” Ange said. “I just tell myself, ‘it’s just me and the ball; I’ve got to hit it.’”
The first inning suggested the game would be a slugfest, as L.A. Mission College (18-12, 7-4) jumped out to 2-0 lead in the top half on a two-run homer from Christopherson.
Bakhshian, who had five strikeouts, settled into a rhythm after the first and allowed just five hits and a walk in the final six frames. She allowed 10 base runners (seven hits, two walks, one hit by pitch) with two others reaching on GCC errors in the game.
“It made me mad they hit off me, so I just buckled down and focused more,” said Bakhshian of how she settled down. “Once we got ahead and once they had scored for me, it makes me able to do more things with my pitching and I feel more confident when I’m out there.”
Christopherson and Guzman came into the game among the top three in the conference’s blue division with .524 and .500 batting averages, respectively, but went one for eight in the game against Bakhshian, who Wilder opted to leave in for the entire game instead of going to reliever Kayla Evans (two for four) in the final three innings as he’s usually done this year.
“I thought she was so on and we needed her today,” Wilder said of the move.
Ange struck again in the bottom of the third when she belted a grand-slam into the right-center field gap to give the Vaqs a healthy 8-2 advantage.
Bakhshian than retired the side in order in the top of the fourth and fifth innings.
The Eagles had a chance to score some runs when they loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth, thanks to a hit batter, error and a Stefanie Delgado single. L.A. Mission’s Destiny Pena drew a bases-loaded walk to cap the scoring at 8-3, as Bakhshian then induced an easy 1-2 grounder and pop-out to shortstop to end the threat.
“Just the confidence of having my team behind me makes me pitch better,” Bakhshian said of her performance. “We had a good practice yesterday, just a good team talk and all got our head in it and decided to come out and do what we know we can do.”