By Ray Conner
The varsity Lady Broncs softball squad’s quest for an undefeated league season hits home.
Kern Valley (16-6-2, 12-0 HDL) entertained rival Bishop as they closed out the regular season. The Lady Broncs had hits aplenty in the home game. They collected 12 hits as a team, including two that went for extra bases.
Having wrapped up the High Desert League title last week, Kern Valley had nothing but an undefeated league season on their minds.
Between the hitting and the pitching from Kern Valley this game was no contest as they took it 14-0 in five innings of play. The Lady Broncs grabbed the 2-0 lead in their half of the first inning. It would prove to be all they would need to earn the victory.
Kern Valley supported their pitcher with four runs in the bottom of the third inning and closed out the scoring with eight runs in their at bats in the fourth.
Hayes once again was dominant in the circle as she tossed a one-hit shutout. She allowed just four base runners the whole game. She issued three free passes and the one hit in five innings of work.
She struck out nine Bishop players to collect the victory.
So far this season, Hayes has a record of 15-2 with an ERA of 1.02. She has 110 innings pitched, allowing just 16 earned runs. Hayes has tossed five no-hitters, nine shut outs and has 15 complete games. She has set down 220 batters with strikes, while walking 48.
With the sticks, Hayes also led the Lady Broncs with three hits, including a double. She would knock in a pair of runs. Sadi Hartman banged out the other extra base hit and had a single. The extra base hit was a round tripper as she hit her sixth home run of the season. Hartman is the leading hitter for Kern Valley to date as she is ripping with a .494 batting average. She has 39 hits, including 18 for extra bases and has driven in 34 runs.
Hailey Martinez, Krista Witten and Kassy Opferman each had a pair of hits for the Lady Broncs. Brenna Acosta had one hit to round out the offense for Kern Valley.
Head coach Brianna Moss said, “The girls played great and finished league making a statement. I think sometimes when a game doesn’t have meaning towards the standings there is a possibility for teams to let down but that didn’t happen last week. Being the undefeated HDL champs was important to these girls. As incredible as winning the CIF title last year was, there was something missing since we didn’t win league. We definitely went into this season with an HDL title in mind and it feels great to see the girls really step up and get that done. This was our senior night game and our four seniors- Kassy, Krista, Helen and Sadi- all had incredible games. Kassy and Krista both had multiple base hits, Helen threw a one-hitter and Sadi hit a two run home run.”
With the regular season done, the Lady Broncs will now turn their attentions to defending the CIF Central Section Division 5 championship they won last year. Kern Valley enters the CIF playoffs as the No. 3 seed. Highland, last year’s runner up to the Lady Broncs is the No. 1 seed, while Shafter, another team dispatched by Kern Valley is the No. 2 seed.
The defense of that CIF title started on Tuesday as they played Immanuel of Reedley to begin the playoffs. A win over Immanuel will pit the Lady Broncs against the Rosamond (No. 6)/Corcoran winner on Thursday with the site to be determined.