Paly softball shuts out Fremont 3-0
In the words of Palo Alto High School varsity softball coach Tim Anderson: “When everybody works, good things happen.” This was certainly the case for his team, as the Lady Vikes’ errorless defensive performance gave them a 3-0 victory over the Fremont High School firebirds on Tuesday, April 26.
The two teams had some tension earlier this season when the Firebirds issued a last minute forfeit due to Freemont’s prom, but Anderson and his players did not take it personally. Instead, they focused on the task at hand.
“We have to take care of our own business,” Anderson said. “We’ve been playing good defense and our pitching is getting better.
The Lady Vikes’, despite suffering a tough 2-1 loss to high-ranked Santa Catalina on Friday, experienced an extreme boost in team morale that carried them through the Fremont matchup.
“ It was our best game all year,” Anderson said. “When we lost that game I felt like it was a victory. The kids really played their hearts out and I think it boosted their confidence.”
The Lady Vikes played with similar fervor against the Firebirds. The defense was put on overdrive from the start. Pitcher Julia Saul (’14) allowed just one walk and four hits throughout the course of the game, while infielders Hannah Bundy (’14) and Gracie Marshall (’11) each had numerous infield stops that prevented runners from getting on base.
Marshall also caught two crucial back-to-back infield fly balls in the top of the fourth, when Fremont threatened to comeback. The top of the Firebird batting order produced a line drive followed by a double, putting runners in scoring position on second and third base. The Lady Vikes, however, continued to play flawless defense. Bundy scooped up an easy grounder to get the out at first base, holding both runners, while Marshall followed with her infield catches.
Saul was not surprised that her team was able to pull it together and perform.
“We’ve had a turning point [on defense],” Saul said. “I think we’ve all finally realized what we have to do to play and to get the win.”
Though Paly’s scoring opportunities were few, they capitalized when necessary. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Bundy got a single off a bobbled grounder and proceeded to steal second base. Despite Grace Stafford (’11) and Maya Padilla (’13) grounding out, it was enough to bring in Bundy to put a run on the board for the Vikings. Anna Rizza (’13) then successfully ripped the ball into deep right field for another single before stealing both second and third base. Saul was then able to put the ball into play for an RBI, and drove Rizza home for a 2-0 score.
Though both Mariah Philips (’11) and Padilla were both robbed of big hits in the bottom of the 3rd and 4th innings respectively, the Lady Vikes didn’t give up hope on offense. After a continued battle between groundouts and popups, Paly found its rhythm once again in the bottom of the 5th. Philips pushed a hit through the first and second base gap and advanced to second base off an error before Anna Gale (’11) hit a line drive, advancing her home for a score of 3-0.
Although Bundy struck out in the fourth inning, she was able to drive a double to the fence in the bottom of the sixth.
Though Fremont had two hits in the top of the first, the Firebirds were unable to follow through with any scoring opportunities, leaving few runners on bases in the early innings and losing grounder battles to the Paly defense. This trend continued throughout the game, and culminated with various swings of momentum in the Paly offense to reward the Lady Vikes with a win.
Palo Alto, now 3-4 in league play, is determined not to let the number of wins and losses phase them entering the post-season.
“We’re a team that doesn’t have a great overall record but we have a good expectation of making the postseason playoffs and we plan on doing that,” Anderson said.
Saul remains confident that her team’s resilience will hold out for the remainder of the season, especially during playoffs.
“Every loss is hard for us, but our team is very good at coming back and being able to move onto the next game,” Saul said. “We all know that every game is a new start.”
The Lady Vikes will take on Santa Clara this Thursday at Santa Clara High School at 4:00 p.m.