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Time off doesn’t help Valley Christian as defense doesn’t come through against Mayfair

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

Spring Break is a time for relaxation for all, but sometimes too much relaxation isn’t a good thing. Just ask the Valley Christian High softball team, which was playing its first game in exactly two weeks when it hosted Mayfair High last Thursday.

The Lady Crusaders committed a season-high eight errors and the Monsoons went on to trounce V.C. 13-3 in a six-inning game. The Lady Crusaders entered the contest with 19 errors in 17 games. The extended time off was one of the reasons for the 10-run loss, according to V.C. head coach Nicole McGahey

“I think so,” McGahey said. “I think taking all that time off…we had to refocus again and resettle. Playing a bigger school, they get nervous and that plays into it. I will say for being a young team they are, they’re pretty dedicated and right on. I just think they have to just learn to get to that point quicker.”

Mayfair’s Makenna Stram was throwing a no-hitter through the first three innings and had walked only freshman shortstop Kate Van Kampen during that time. But in the bottom of the fourth inning and V.C. already down 9-0, the Lady Crusaders finally got to Stram. She would walk sophomore catcher Kyla Nunez-O’Leary to lead off the fourth before senior third baseman Kylie Carr reached on an error. One out later, Van Kampen doubled down the left field line to bring home both runners.

In the next inning, V.C. (6-11-1) tried to put together a two-out rally when sophomore designated player Alex Burgess-Allen singled to right, stole second and advanced one base on a single to the right field gap from Nunez-O’Leary. But Burgess-Allen was thrown out at home on the play.

“I think that’s what we figured out about this team, is that they don’t want to quit, they don’t want to die and they don’t want to give up,” McGahey said. “And I appreciate that so much. Right in the huddle before we went up to bat, I just said, ‘this is your chance right now, light it up and figure it out.’ I just think they just have a winning spirit about them that they want to just go for it no matter what and keep going.”

In the sixth, Carr led off with a base hit to the left field gap and stole second. But she would be thrown out when freshman pitcher Caitlyn Azevedo reached on a fielder’s choice. Two pitches later, Van Kampen came up with her second of V.C.’s five hits.

Meanwhile, Azevedo was overwhelmed by the hitting of the Monsoons, who collected 16 hits. Stram would go four for five in the lead-off position while Sarah Clausen collected three hits and drove in four runs. Of the 13 runs scored, eight were earned.

Last season, the Lady Crusaders went 4-19 but finished in third place in the Olympic League and advanced to the postseason. Even though the team is 1-3 in the circuit with four games remaining in the regular season, McGahey is positive that the team can have the same second half surge as it did last season. She says the key to being successful in the final two and a half weeks is working on getting on top of the hitting much earlier in the game and fixing those ‘blinding’ errors.

V.C., which is a game behind three teams who are tied for second place, hosted Village Christian High on Apr. 27 and will visit Whittier Christian High on Tuesday before hosting Maranatha High on Thursday. Those are the three teams tied for second place. The lone league victory came against league-leading Heritage Christian High on Apr. 6, a 2-1 win. So, according to McGahey, getting to the postseason is definitely not out of the question.

“Our girls know that too after they played Heritage and beat them,” McGahey said. “They knew that it’s possible, that they can do this. So, they have a dream; they have a dream to be able to get to that point and that’s what they’re going with right now.”