GLENDALE — Coming into their season-ending rivalry game on Thursday, the Glendale High and Hoover softball teams had somewhat disappointing seasons.
Both the Nitros and Tornadoes were out of the playoff hunt in the bottom half of the Pacific League pack.
But one of them would end the season with a win and a rivalry win, to boot.
"It's huge," Glendale Coach Christine Paknik said. "There's no bigger word you can use. They needed this. This is how they should have played all year. They did it today and they executed and that's all you can ask."
Glendale defeated host Hoover, 11-4, to close out the season on a winning note. The win saw the Nitros end the season at 5-16 overall and 5-9 in league. The Tornadoes finished 8-14, 3-11.
"It's the biggest game of the year," Hoover Coach Rich Henning said. "You can have the worst season ever, but if you beat Glendale High, you've got a tremendous season. It didn't work that way this year."
The Nitros' bats came alive, notching 17 hits. Senior Alia Zavala finished with four hits (a double and three singles), two runs batted in and a run scored.
"I was really confident," Zavala said.
According to Zavala and her coach, the first baseman has caught the final out of the final game against Hoover each of the last four seasons.
"I think it's awesome," Zavala said. "I can't explain it."
Glendale jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and added four runs in the fifth en route to the victory.
In six of the seven innings, the Nitros got the lead-off batter on base.
"One, it sets the tone," Paknik said. "Two it sets the momentum. Three, you get a runner around to score, which is your ultimate goal."
Eleven runs were more than enough for starting pitcher Jordan Lousararian. She scattered seven hits and walked one, striking out four. Glendale's defense committed five errors.
"I felt as I got going I was getting my groove," Lousararian said. "Just trying to throw strikes and keep the ball down."
The bottom of the second inning was a turning point for Hoover. On a critical play with the bases loaded, an interference call negated a run and added a second out. The Tornadoes only managed one run that inning, pulling to within 4-1. Hoover got to within 5-3 in the third off a couple of errors, but it was the second frame where opportunity was lost.
"Absolutely shut down right then and there on the spot," Henning said. "To me that was the turning point of the game."
Alissa Barcena had two hits, including a triple, for Hoover. Teammate Alejandra Villasenor added a double and a single.
"The whole season didn't go as planned," Henning said. "I've got a senior-laden team. They've been working really hard. For four years they've been working hard."