Melaina Saalfeld earned a reputation as a promising pitcher after her strong freshman season, and the Beyer High sophomore showed Tuesday that she possesses potential as a hitter, too.
She went 3 for 3 with an RBI and scored twice and fired a 3-hitter as Beyer beat Downey 8-0 at Rainbow Fields to remain atop the Modesto Metro Conference.
The Patriots (10-3, 4-0 MC) visit Davis (4-5, 3-1) Thursday. They met on the final day of the regular season a year ago, and Davis won to knock Beyer out of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Saalfeld says her team's offensive improvement should make the difference this time around.
"The top half of our lineup hit last year, but we dropped off after that," said Saalfeld, after the Patriots pounded out eight hits. "We're making contact up and down the lineup this year. We're putting a lot of balls in play."
That includes Saalfeld, whose first-inning single drove in the first run. She scored on Courtney Coit's single for a 2-0 lead. A three-run second sealed the win.
"As a pitcher, it feels great getting runs early in the game because it means I can make a mistake and we'll still be OK," said Saalfeld, who struck out 11 and walked none. "With a lead, I just keep moving the ball around the plate, in and out, up and down."
Though the 5-foot-3-inch Saalfeld lacks the power of some of the region's prominent hurlers, she is displaying good control.
"I'm getting good spin on pitches and it makes it difficult for hitters," said Saalfeld, whose ERA fell to 1.12. "All the talk is about speed, but putting a good spin on your pitches is important, too."
DAVIS 10, ENOCHS 2, at Davis — Leadoff hitter Rylee Lemas was 3 for 3 and reached base all four times and Nicole Loveland's two-run single sparked a five-run third that sent the Spartans (4-8, 3-1) past the Eagles (3-7, 0-4). Desi Maldonado had 11 strikeouts and one walk and the Spartans backed her with 11 hits.
Valley Oak League
EAST UNION 3, OAKDALE 1, at Oakdale — Freshman Brittany Lamar ripped a two-run triple over the center fielder's head with two out in the sixth and Erin Arevalo fired a two-hitter as the top-ranked large-school Lancers (14-2, 3-0 VOL) slipped past the Mustangs (10-6, 1-2). Arevalo struck out 15, pushing her state-leading total to 251.
Oakdale had tied it at 1 in the bottom of the fifth, when Ashton Brown singled, stole second and scored on Andrea Lutz's single.
CERES 3, SIERRA 0, at Ceres — Vaneza Hoover hurled a no-hitter, striking out seven and walking three, and tripled before scoring a run as the Bulldogs (9-7, 2-1) handed the Timberwolves (8-7, 2-1) their first league loss. Ceres' Mika Johnson stole her 21st base of the season, while going 2 for 3 and scoring a run.
WESTON RANCH 1, CENTRAL VALLEY 0, at Ceres — Amy Olmos tossed a 3-hitter to lift the Cougars (4-8, 1-2) over the Hawks (3-9, 0-3). CV's Alisha Diaz, who held Weston Ranch to four hits,tripled in the fifth and seventh, but the Hawks couldn't get her home.
DENAIR 2, DELHI 1, at Denair — Kortne Bacca (16 strikeouts) hurled a no-hitter and the Coyotes (2-8, 2-0) scored twice in the fourth to top the Hawks (3-5, 1-3). Ann-Marie Turpin walked to open the fifth and scored on Janay Bankston's double, then Bankston scored on Brittany Pinney's single up the middle. Those were the only hits Denair managed off of Raeann Gill.
LE GRAND 5, WATERFORD 0, at Le Grand — Briana Giampaoli tossed a four-hitter and the defending section Division VI champion Bulldogs (8-7, 2-1) beat the Wildcats (6-5, 2-2). Veronica Moreno knocked in two runs for the Bulldogs, who led 3-0 after two innings.
Western Athletic Conference
CENTRAL 1, HILMAR 0, at Modesto — Lisa Orozco's infield single scored Gabrielle Pimentel from second in the bottom of the 10th as the Raiders (8-6, 2-2) beat the No. 2 small-school Yellowjackets (8-4, 2-2). The tiebreaker rule put Pimentel on second to start the inning and she moved to third on a passed ball. Hilmar's Courtney Ramos (18 strikeouts) and Central's Briana Rios (11 strikeouts) allowed only three hits apiece while going the distance.
PATTERSON 12, LIVINGSTON 0, at Livingston — Jessyca Rico and Kayla Souza combined on a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts, while Mandy Sifuentes drove in three runs as the Tigers (8-8, 3-1) blanked the Wolves.