First published in the March 24 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
By Nathan Cambridge
In the final matchup for both schools before spring break, Westridge and Flintridge Prep faced off in softball, looking to go into the hiatus on a positive note.
With a win in the final at-bat, it was Westridge that walked off with the win, 7-6, over the visiting Wolves at Richard N. Frank Field in Prep League action Friday afternoon.
“I think we all knew that this was the game we wanted to win going into spring break. We all had that energy that we were going to come into this game with a winning mentality and it was really nice to see everyone work together to achieve that,” Westridge’s Soleil Ybarra said.
In the bottom of the seventh, there was one out with runners on second and third against Flintridge Prep pitcher Elise Fong. This set the stage for Westridge’s Lilah Rangel, who smacked a clean single through the infield to drive in the winning run and secure the victory with a walk-off hit.
“I just kind of blacked out and then I saw it was a strike and hit it,” Rangel, a freshman, said. “I’m glad we won. We were rallying and waited and, yeah, we got [my] hit and the walk-off.”
In the final frame, Westridge put the two batters on to set up Rangel’s heroics without hitting a ball out of the infield. Tiger Molly Morgan was first with an infield single. Pinch-hitter Ellie Lin-Stevens followed that with another infield single, but not without controversy. Lin-Stevens had not been reported as a substitute.
“I didn’t report a sub and that was my mistake. I get nervous as well,” Westridge coach Karen Hanselman said.
Following a lengthy discussion, the play was allowed to stand and Hanselman was issued an official warning. The Wolves questioned the penalty and the rest of the contest was played under protest.
“We want to get the call right for everyone involved,” Flintridge Prep coach Julie Mejia said.
It was a sister act for Westridge (2-4, 2-3) in the circle. Rysie and Soleil Ynarra performed the duties, with the freshman pitching starting and the junior sibling bringing things home.
“They have a nasty change-up,” Hanselman said of the sisters’ repertoire.
Rysie pitched the first five innings, striking out nine batters, before exiting trailing 5-4. Soleil picked up from there, pitching the final two innings, striking out five and earning the win.
“My sister pitched the first innings and did great, so I was like, I’ve got to back her up here,” the elder Ybarra said.
In the top of the seventh, Sarah Bougdanos struck out to lead off the inning, but reached base when the third strike was dropped and she beat the throw to first. She advanced on a stolen base, then a wild pitch to third. Then, with two outs, Luna Tobar hit the first pitch of the at-bat for a single to centerfield to drive in the tying run and keep the game alive. Madison Lin and then Eliza Gunter followed with singles to load the bases, but the elder Ybarra struck out the next batter to end the threat and set up Rangel’s game-ending single.
Flintridge Prep (2-6-1 overall, 1-4 in league) scored two runners in the top of the first. Bougdanos walked to lead off and, two batters later, raced home from third on a throw to first after a dropped third strike. Tobar then drove in Asta Uziel, who had reached on a single, for the second run with a groundout.
Westridge answered with four runs in the bottom of the first. Emmabella Barragan Martinez, who led off the contest with a single that dropped in between outfielders, scored the first run on an Flintridge Prep error. Soleil Ybarra then drove in a run with a single and, two batters later, scored on another Wolves fielding error. Morgan followed with an RBI-single for the final run of the frame.
“It’s tough to win a game when we give them so many extra opportunities,” Mejia said. “We just had a lot of errors defensively and didn’t play strong ball there across the board.”
The Wolves scored another pair in the top of the second via a run-producing single by Alex Von Thaden and a Bougdanos groundout. Fong held the hosts scoreless in the top of inning, allowing the visitors to pull ahead with a run in the third on a Tobar RBI-single.
The teams did not score again until the Tigers plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth with two out. The first was via a single by Barragan Martinez that drove in Julia Hughes. Sonaya Vazquez-Wright then had an RBI-single of her own to set up the dramatics of the seventh inning.
“This win was super important to us because we were struggling,” Hanselman said.