PREP ROUNDUP: Merced stays hot, takes down Atwater

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comMay 2, 2013 

— Chelsea Evans had to battle the heat and the Atwater High softball team on Thursday afternoon.

Despite the soaring temperatures, the Merced pitcher wasn’t seeking a shady spot in the dugout in between innings.

“I like to stand near the fence and encourage my teammates,” Evans said.

Evans and the Bears had plenty to cheer about as Merced defeated Atwater 5-1. All Evans did was pitch a complete game and go 2 for 4 at the plate with a triple and a run scored.

The heat, which reached the high 80s, forced Atwater outfielder Gabrielle Avila out of the game early.

“It was pretty tough out there, but you know the other team is working twice as hard,” Evans said. “You just have to suck it up.”

The Falcons (9-12-2, 9-5 CCC) struck first as Aliyah Ricks scored on a wild pitch in the top of the first inning.

However, Merced responded with three straight two-out hits in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead.

Evans started the rally with a triple to right. Madilyn Nickles singled Evans in, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Ruby Quiralte then doubled to right to plate Nickles with the go-ahead run.

“That was a big inning, to be able to come back and do that,” said Bears coach Bart McAfee, whose team improved to 21-5 overall, 13-1 CCC. “Aliyah is a good pitcher. It seems like when it comes time to pitch against us, she has a little more to give us.”

Evans struck out seven hitters and gave up only four hits. When she needed it, her defense came up big behind her.

Center fielder Serina Castillo made a nice catch near the fence to help Evans get out of a jam in the third inning. The Bears also turned a couple double plays.

Merced already has its third straight conference title wrapped up. The Bears have one more CCC game before the playoffs.

The Bears haven’t won a playoff game since 2006. It’s a drought Merced would like to end.

“It would be huge,” McAfee said. “But our whole season won’t be defined by that. We’ve had a good year. Our number one goal is to win league. We hope to do well in the playoffs. We’ll go out and play hard.”

Meanwhile, the Falcons face a big matchup on Tuesday against Buhach Colony. The winner will get the CCC’s second seed and a home playoff game.

“I don’t think the scoreboard showed it, but we hit the ball hard today,” Atwater coach Lori Kale said. “Hopefully we can take that hitting into the Buhach Colony game.

“I know the girls will come through. It’s always fun games against Buhach. There’s always something on the line.”

Golden Valley 6, Pitman 5

TURLOCK — The Cougars upset the Pride with the help of Shyan Crutcher's three hits and four RBIs.

Buhach Colony 11, Turlock 0

ATWATER — Katrina Wilson and Kerstin Smith each knocked in three runs as the Thunder (9-5 CCC) clinched a playoff spot with the help of Golden Valley's win over Pitman.

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