Balanced effort nabs Flintridge Sacred Heart softball victory

LA CAÑADA —Offense, defense and pitching complemented one another nicely for the Flintridge Sacred Heart softball team in its nonleague meeting with visiting Immaculate Heart.

The effective play in the three facets each played a major role in the Tologs coming away with a 4-2 victory on Thursday afternoon.

Maria Caire paced the Tologs as the starting pitcher, allowing one earned run on seven hits in a complete game showing. The sophomore hurler helped herself and the squad with a pair of stellar defensive plays in the fourth and sixth innings.

Stellar defensive plays were the norm for Flintridge Sacred Heart on the day, as shortstop and co-captain Rachel Majich, outfielder Hannah Zika, catcher Lacie Fradet and others made game-altering plays in favor of the Tologs.

Of course, the offense needed to put runs on the scoreboard and did so with clutch hits in the sixth en route to securing the win.

“We wanted to bounce back from Tuesday’s loss,” said Tologs Coach Kirk Nishiyama in reference to his team’s Mission League-opening loss to Harvard-Westlake, whose team improves to 7-2 overall. “When we focus, we play well. We didn’t focus on Tuesday, but we competed well today.”

Sophia Coffey, who finished the game with two singles and a pair of runs, put the Tologs on the scoreboard in the second inning on a heads-up play that saw her score on a strikeout that wasn’t secured, and thus had to be completed with a throw to first base. Coffey had singled to lead off the inning and reached third base on Caire’s single before going for home on the throw to first.

Immaculate Heart tied the ballgame in the third inning on a FSHA error and went ahead, 2-1, in the fifth, thanks to a double off the bat of Kathleen Rodick, who started the game for the Pandas and struck out four batters in six innings.

The Pandas were still threatening after Rodick’s double, with runners on second and third. Both likely would have scored and given Immaculate Heart a 4-1 advantage if not for a running catch in right field by Zika.

Zika’s instrumental play in the field and at the plate (two hits, RBI) came to fruition in the bottom half of the inning with a two-out double that plated Majich and knotted the game again, 2-2.

Caire snagged a liner from Immaculate Heart leadoff hitter Jen Enriquez and ended the top of the sixth. It was the second such play the pitcher made from the pitcher’s circle — the first coming in the fourth inning, leading to a double play at third.

“Definitely practice those,” said Caire of her quick thinking. “It’s mostly reflexes, though, because it happens so fast.

“I wanted to hit my spots and locations and be able to throw the pitches that helped my team make the routine plays.”

Consecutive singles by Lali Ortiz and Coffey set up a sacrifice bunt opportunity from pinch-hitter Vanessa Ocon. An error from the Pandas allowed Ortiz to score and Ocon to reach first base. Coffey ended up on third base and scored on Rodick’s wild pitch to give the Tologs a 4-2 lead that would stand.

“It was a good all-around game,” Nishiyama said. “Everyone contributed. Maria pitched a good game, kept them off-balance, and our hitters came through with some big hits.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart will host Maranatha on March 27 before resuming Mission League play at Alemany on April 1.


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