GLENDALE — Glendale High’s softball got the quick start it desired.
But archrival Hoover kept coming back, nipping at the host Nitros’ heels.
That all changed in a momentous sixth inning in which the Tornadoes came one disputed call away from tying the game in the top of the stanza and the Nitros exploded for five runs in their half, sealing an 11-5 Pacific League victory.
“That’s what it is, it’s momentum,” said Nitros Coach Christine Paknik, whose team improved to 5-8 and 3-4 in league. “That’s what we’ve been preaching to them is setting the tone and momentum.”
Hoover (5-7, 1-6 in league) used a pair of infield singles and a hit by pitch to load the bases in the top of the sixth and when Alejandra Villasenior was hit by a pitch with two outs it pushed Karina Moreno across to cut the score to 6-5.
The ensuing pitch was a wild throw by Glendale pitcher Alex Howard. Nitros catcher Grace Sinisterra hustled for the ball, flipped it to Howard and she tagged out Hoover’s Kaitlyn Williams, who slid in head first. The Tornadoes fans erupted in argument and Hoover Coach Rich Henning followed. It was to no avail, though, and the momentum swing increased immediately.
Meghan Spencer led off the bottom of the sixth with a single for the Nitros and the offensive parade continued with a Howard single scoring Spencer to make it 7-5 before a Jordan Lousarrarian single led to three more runs scoring and Lousarrarian upped the tally to 11-5 when she stole home on a rundown.
“I think we all came in with a lot of intensity for Hoover,” said Lousarrarian, who was four for four with four runs batted in and three runs scored. “I think it took us a while to settle down and take control.”
Henning gave credit to Glendale, but was also quick to point out the impact he felt the umpires played on the game.
“The calls that went against us totally cost us the game. Everybody has eyes,” said Henning, who, along with his first-base coach, disputed more than a few calls. “The bad call at home plate had a lot to do with [the momentum changing].
“Give Glendale credit. They hit the ball, they put the pressure on and they took advantage of our mistakes.”
The Nitros struck early for a four-run first inning, as singles by Spencer, Howard, Lousarrarian and Alia Zavala, along with a two-run double from Esmeralda Winland produced, a big lead that the Tornadoes could never overcome.
Hoover battled back to within one at 4-3, 5-4 and 6-5, but could never tie the game.
The Tornadoes’ first retort came with a three-run second inning, as Lousarrarian, who got the start in the circle for Glendale, walked the bases loaded. With two outs, Moreno singled home a run and the ball got through the outfielder, allowing two more runs to score.
Glendale added a run in the third when an infield single by Lousarrarian scored Winland, but a bigger rally was quelled by an excellent play from Williams at short, who robbed Sinisterra of a base hit with two runners on. Williams made a diving stop next to second base and from the ground tapped her glove on the bag for the force.
Alissa Barcena scored on an error in the fourth as Hoover brought the score to 5-4.
Lousarrarian doubled to lead off the fifth and came around to score on an Eden Marzucco single for the final run before all of the sixth-inning dramatics commenced.
“The Glendale-Hoover rivalry is the best game in town,” Henning said. “Great rivalry.”
Lousarrarian got the win in the circle, working four innings, allowing four runs (three unearned), three hits, five walks and hitting one batter, while striking out two. It was hardly her best performance, but she responded at the dish.
“I was upset about my pitching,” Lousarrarian said. “I just decided to find another way to help the team out.”
Howard took over and closed the game out for the save, pitching through trouble in every inning, as she allowed one run in three innings, giving up three hits, walking one and hitting two, while striking out three.
“She got herself in [trouble] and she got herself out of it,” Paknik said.
At the plate, Howard went two for three with two runs, an RBI and a walk, while Spencer added a pair of hits and two runs and Winland had three runs. Marzucco also had two hits and a walk.
For Hoover, Moreno tallied three hits, while Barcena had a pair of hits, two runs and a walk.