By Rick Assad
Special to MyBurbank
Undersized but highly determined, a four-run, second inning by the North All-Stars swayed the balance of power in Friday night’s 7th through 9th grade “Mid-Season Ponytail Softball Classic” at McCambridge Park as the visitors held on for an 8-5 victory.
The Valley Cats’ Sarah Sarquiz opened the frame with a walk off the Angels’ Nicole Winters, and after the Wild Things’ Genesis Quintero popped up, the Rocket Fizz’s Gabriella Angrisani walked, as did the Rocket Fizz’s Rebecca Callahan.
With the bases filled the Wild Things’ Sarah Duncan drew a base on balls which forced in the initial run.
The MonStars’ Gabi Perez (two hits) was hit by a pitch which allowed the second run to cross the plate, and the MonStars’ Xitlali Aguilar bounced into a force out for the third run. The final run scored on an error.
“I told the girls to go out there and have some fun,” North All-Star manager Shaun Armendariz said. “This is an All-Star team, so I didn’t know all the girls, but they came out and made contact and played good fundamental softball.”
The South All-Stars (five hits) responded with the Angels’ Brianna Johnson ripping a two-run homer to left field off the Rocket Fizz’s Alexandra Bensen in the third inning which scored the Crush’s Anna Kasper, who was nicked by a pitch with one out.
Two runs in the fifth inning by the North All-Stars (also five hits) made it a four-run lead as Perez reached on an infield single, stole second, moved to third base on Bensen’s one-out infield hit, and scored on an error.
Bensen later stole second base and came around when the Wild Things’ Jonah Santos, who singled in the seventh, was safe on an error.
“I tried to do my best and have fun,” said Bensen, the winning pitcher who worked four innings including a perfect first inning.
When Bensen was asked if she was aware that the South All-Stars were quite a bit taller than the North All-Stars, and seemingly stronger, she said it wasn’t important. “I really didn’t. We won because we wanted to have fun, and we wanted to do our best.”
The North All-Stars closed out the scoring with two runs in the seventh inning as Perez drilled a one-out triple to left field off the Crush’s Camylle Robinson, and scored when Aguilar grounded out. Bensen was safe on an infield hit and eventually came around on a defensive lapse.
The South All-Stars closed the gap with two runs in the fifth inning as the Nightmares’ Aubrianna Rohan got aboard on an error. Rohan then took second base on the Crush’s Alejandra Cano’s single to center field, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored when the Her-Icanes’ Natalie Zadikian was hit by a pitch. Cano came around to score on a wild pitch.
“It was a really fun game, but we left a lot of runners on base and we made a couple of errors,” South All-Star manager Toney Smith said. “We came up short when it came to hitting. For some reason our hitting didn’t come through. Yeah, we were a lot taller than they were, but we just didn’t hit.”
The South All-Stars tallied a run in the sixth inning when the Nightmares’ Christy Hoffman (two hits) walked with two out, stole second base, moved to third on an error, and scored on a wild pitch.
Hoffman singled to lead off the second inning and Rohan added an infield hit with one out. But both were stranded as Cano struck out and the Nightmares’ Kira Bochard grounded out.
With two out in the fourth inning, Hoffman tripled to left field, but Robinson hit back to Duncan.