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PREMIER GIRLS FASTPITCH FRESNO QUALIFIER : Artesia Punishers 16-Under Gonzales team goes out quickly in final PGF qualifier

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

It was a very quick appearance in the Premier Girls Fastpitch’s Fresno Qualifier for the Artesia Punishers 16-Under team coached by Vince Gonzales. In a span of roughly 16 hours over two days, the Punishers went two and out and managed five hits in the two games.

Last Friday night, the Punishers squandered a one-run lead in the top of the fourth inning and fell to the Southern California Choppers-Del Castillo 7-5. In the bottom of the second inning, and already down 3-0, Mya Diaz (Anaheim High) was walked and replaced by Rachelle Garcia (Monrovia High). After a sacrifice from Jaela Ruiz (Paramount High) and a groundout from Briana Zarate (Legacy High), Diaz would come home on an error.

The Punishers would take the lead in the next inning and began with a walk to Clarissa Lockett (Hawthorne Math and Science Academy), who then stole second on a 1-2 count to Jessica Lopez (Los Osos High). Five pitches later, Lopez singled and the runners moved up on the throw. The hit would be the only one for the Punishers in the contest. That set the stage for Natalie Plaza (Pacifica High), who grounded out to plate Lockett.

Alexis Duenas (Artesia High) was hit by a pitch to load the bases and replaced by Maya Ledesma (Millikan High). Elyse Silva would be safe on an error, allowing Lopez to tie the game and Diaz and Ruiz would also be hit by a pitch, the latter allowing Ledesma to score the go-ahead run.

But the Choppers would regain the lead with a four-run top of the fourth inning. The Punishers would have a chance to tie or win the game in their half of the inning. Consecutive walks to Alyssa Tarasi (Huntington Beach High) and Lockett and groundout from Lopez put a pair of runners in scoring position. But the Punishers would just get a sacrifice fly from Plaza for the only score.

The next morning, the Punishers would be completely dominated by the Fresno Force, 15-2, ending their bid to qualify for the PGF National Championships at the end of July. The Force scored five runs in the top of the second inning before the Punishers got on the board in their half of the inning. Diaz doubled and moved to third on a groundout from Ruiz. After Lockett was walked, a groundout from Destiny Avila (St. Anthony High) plated Diaz.

In the next inning, Duenas flied out to right field before Silva and Ivanna Villalobos (Bell Gardens High) were walked. Diaz then came up and smacked her second double of the game, allowing Silva to score. Diaz would go three for three as the Punishers would collect four hits. However, the team would also leave eight runners on base and commit five errors on defense. Lockett also worked into the third inning, yielding five hits and five runs, all unearned.

Even though the Punishers failed to qualify for the PGF National Championships, they are still going to the Triple Crown Sports World Series in Park City, Utah July 15-20. At time of press, the schedule had not been released, but the Punishers are in a pool with five other teams. A total of 57 16-Under teams will be participating in the World Series.