Whether it’s executing a sacrifice bunt, heads-up base running or any of the numerous intricacies that factor into a softball game, all the little things matter. And those little things get magnified exponentially in a game between two evenly matched foes.
That was the case in Monday night’s key District 24-6A matchup between Clear Falls and Alvin, as the Lady Jackets saw the little things go their way in a 2-1 win over the Knights.
“We know it’s the little things that make the difference in a big ball game, and tonight, Alvin did the little things, and we didn’t,” Clear Falls head coach Kimberly Wood said.
The win in the battle of the 24-6A unbeatens improved Alvin to 3-0 in district play while dropping Clear Falls to 3-1.
With freshman right fielder and leadoff hitter Mindy Matthews as the primary catalyst, Alvin did all its damage on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning.
Sophomore second baseman Khori Bolton was hit by a pitch on a 2-2 count to begin the inning, and she advanced to second base on a passed ball. A well executed sac bunt laid down the first base line by freshman designated player Chloe Foster got Bolton to third base, and Matthews knocked a seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield to bring Bolton home for the 1-0 lead.
Alvin’s timely aggression on the base paths paid off when Matthews stole second base and then raced all the way home when the throw to second caromed into no-man’s land in shallow center field.
Clear Falls responded right back with a run in the top of the fourth. After Alvin junior pitcher Jodie Aguirre retired her 10th consecutive Clear Falls batter to start the contest, senior shortstop Erica Riley ended the perfect game bid with a one-out single smacked to left field. Following a sac bunt, sophomore designated player Payton Bean blooped an RBI single to shallow right field.
“I was super proud of my kids after the inning where we gave up the two runs because we did answer back, we didn’t just lay down,” Wood said.
The Knights’ last best chance to score a run came in the top of the fifth when senior third baseman Ciara Victor led off the inning with a hard-hit single to right field. But, the next batter was unable to get down a sac bunt, and Clear Falls could not come through with a clutch base knock after that.
After Victor’s single, Aguirre retired nine of the next 10 Clear Falls batters to close out the game, only surrendering a two-out walk to Victor in the top of the seventh.
“We weren’t as disciplined at the plate as we’ve been the past few games, and it hurt us, and she pitched great — she had a great game,” Wood said. “We just couldn’t get her number; she had our number tonight.”
Aguirre picked up the complete-game win in the circle for the Lady Jackets, giving up just three hits and one walk with the one earned run and 12 strikeouts over seven innings.
The Knights’ senior starting pitcher Ashlyn Strother was dealt the hard-luck loss after a fine performance. She also gave up just three hits and one earned run, and did not give up a walk while striking out three batters.
Clear Falls will have the rest of spring break off before returning to action 6:30 p.m. March 19 at home against Clear Lake.