TEMPLE CITY — It’s been a certain type of scrappiness and head’s-up play that’s separated the Temple City High softball team from the rest of the Rio Hondo League so far this season.
That same ability was on display Tuesday afternoon for visiting La Cañada to witness.
The Spartans had trouble with the Rams’ style and didn’t help their own cause with a few errors – both mental and on the scoreboard – in a 4-2 loss.
“We have to stop making mistakes,” Spartans Coach KC Mathews said. “If we’re going to beat a first-place team like Temple City, then we have to help ourselves and today we didn’t play defense or hit well, at all.”
Behind eight hits, the Rams (11-10 overall, 6-1 in league) avenged their lone defeat, 9-5, in league to La Cañada (12-9, 6-3) back on March 26. The rubber game between both teams is Friday at La Cañada.
The Rams created space Tuesday via a two-run fifth inning that broke open a tie at 1.
Rams junior Celina Ornelas led off the fifth earning the first walk of the game versus Spartans hurler Maddy MacKenzie (10-6) and advanced to second with one out on a stolen base.
Ornelas then scored the go-ahead run when leadoff batter Haylie Roach, who was two for three with a triple, RBI and two runs scored, bounced a single past the infield into center field.
Roach, who advanced to second on a throw-out attempt of Ornelas at the plate, moved to third base on a comebacker from Rams senior Breanna Rodrigo, who beat a putout try at first base.
With runners on the corners and one out, Roach then stole home on a fake double steal in which Spartans catcher Olivia Lam pumped to second, while Roach slid underneath a tag at the plate.
“Today, we really wanted to be aggressive on the base paths and play well all around and we did that,” said acting Rams Coach Hannah Komai, who was filling in for head coach Bob Ellingsworth, who was in New York for the final collegiate game for his daughter Kaitlin Ellingsworth at Dowling University. “We came up with some big hits and played really well defensively.”
A half inning later, the Spartans nearly tied the game when junior Katy Lee led off with a walk and advanced to third with one out.
With runners on the corner and one out, Temple City pitcher Elissa Ponce (9-7) responded by inducing a harmless pop out to first for the inning’s second out.
Yet, she nearly didn’t escape when the next batter, Aubri Thompson, laced a single to center that plated Lee.
While the relay from Rams center fielder Sierra Singer was too late to get Lee, a snap throw from catcher Cierra Schnyder to third base was fast enough to nab junior Michelle Grochow, attempting to advance from first to third, to end the inning.
The momentum from the inning-ending out carried over to the bottom of the sixth for the Rams.
Temple City added an insurance run to go up, 4-2, and then who overcame a leadoff double from La Cañada’s Breanna Gay in the seventh for the victory.
Initially, Temple City scored a run in the bottom of the first when a triple from Roach was cashed in on a sacrifice fly from Jennifer Peg.
La Cañada responded with a run in the fourth on a run-scoring double from Grochow.
“It’s just the little things that hurt us today,” Mathews said. “There wasn’t much to say afterward. The girls know what needs to be improved.”