Buena softball shakes off rust, beats Cedar Creek
BUENA VISTA — Cedar Creek head coach Shawn Cohen and his counterpart, Pam Pickett of Buena Regional, both feared the worst as each team was coming off a week layoff due to rain. The host Chiefs also had their prom late last week, and Pickett said throughout her many years of coaching, she's always lost a game during prom week.
Monday's game featured several defensive mishaps and a couple of base running blunders that showed each team's rust, but it also featured some defensive wizardry by the Chiefs and some thunder from Cedar Creek's bats. In the end, Buena Regional held on to edge the Pirates 5-4 to remain atop the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference standings.
"I think the layoff that we had for a week made us a little rusty, defensively. We usually play a cleaner game than that," Pickett said. "But with prom weekend and a week of rain; I'm not making any excuses, and Cedar Creek hits the ball so well. So we knew, defensively, that we were going to have to play well."
"It's been a week, we had one good practice day last week. It's tough to keep having indoor practices to prepare for a game like this," Cohen said. "We knew it was going to be tough. They have one loss in the conference — to us, the first time we played — so we knew they were going to come for blood. We battled as best we could under the circumstances. I thought we fought hard and it was a good game. I love coming here to play against Pam."
Cedar Creek cut the deficit to 4-2 with a run in the fourth when Lauren Palomo, running for catcher MyKayla Bird, who had tripled to right field, scored on a wild pitch. The Pirates (9-6, 8-4 CAL National) then rallied for two more runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game, 4-4. Sam Errera scored on an infield error and Venizya Sanchez raced home on a wild pitch as Buena pitcher Sam Monfredo was attempting to walk Bird. Cedar Creek threatened more by loading the bases on a single by Savanna Wilkinson, but Monfredo notched a strikeout to end the inning.
Buena (10-6, 9-1) took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth as Hannah Cintron knocked in Monfredo with a sharp single off the glove off Sanchez at shortstop. Monfredo didn't allow a hit in the final two innings and got some great defensive help from shortstop Katryna Arbelo. Sanchez led off the seventh inning by lacing a ball up the middle. Arbelo leaped to snare it, but the ball bounced out of her glove. Somehow, she turned completely around, dove, and snagged the ball just before it hit the ground. Monfredo then got a flyout and a strikeout to end the game.
"I don't know (how I made that play)," Arbelo said. "It popped out of my glove and I saw it go up, so I just tried to turn around and catch it."
Monfredo also got some help from third baseman Brittanie Gilliano in the top of the third. Sanchez blistered a line drive, but Gilliano reached to her right and snared it for the second out. The next batter, Cedar Creek's Brianna Young, smoked a one-hopper to Gilliano. She picked it with the backhand and threw to first to end the inning.
Cedar Creek jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Young drove in Errera with a bunt, but Buena answered with three runs in its half of the inning on an RBI single by Monfredo, an outfield error, and a run-scoring single by Arbelo.
"Our goal was to try to mix up our pitches and our speeds a lot. I think in the middle innings we got a little too much adrenaline going and didn't calm down and mix it up better. After that (fifth) inning, Sam got back to mixing her pitches well," Pickett said. "We were working today on just winning innings. So, that first inning when we came back and won that inning, I was like, OK, at least we are doing what our goal was."
"We're doing our best. We're chipping away and just doing what we can," Arbelo said. "(Monfredo) has been doing her job and I'm proud of her. She's a big part of our team."
Cohen, whose team beat Buena 4-3 on April 19, said the Pirates are starting to gain confidence despite the loss. He said it has taken his team a while to believe it can win without Cheyenne Meyer, now a freshman at Marshall University who was an all-state pitcher last season.
"I think they are starting to believe in themselves and coming around to the thought that, hey, we don't have Cheyenne anymore, but we can still do this," Cohen said. "We still have enough talent on the team to play hard and beat these types of teams. We beat them the first time around, which was nice. We played a close game, got down a couple of runs but didn't give up. We clawed our way back and tied it up. I think we're going to be alright heading into the state playoffs."
Contact Dave O'Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays