By Ray Conner
Knocking off the defending High Desert League champions on the road can give a team a lot of confidence the rest of the way.
On March 15, the varsity Lady Broncs softball team made the trip to Edwards Air Force Base to square off with Desert. The Lady Scorpions were the champions of HDL last season and Kern Valley knew if they want to be champs this was the place to start.
The Lady Broncs jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after their opening at bats and they would never be tested again.
They would add two more runs in the third to increase the margin to 5-0.
Desert got on the board with a pair of runs in their half of the third inning to close the gap slightly.
In the fifth, the Lady Broncs pushed one run home and followed that with two more in the sixth to make it 8-2.
Kern Valley finished off the scoring by adding one in the top of the seventh. They would shut down Desert and claim the 9-2 victory and take an early league lead.
With this win the Lady Broncs moved to 2-0 in the HDL as they bested Boron on March 12.
In the Desert game, Brenna Acosta led the charge with a pair of hits, including a double. She would knock in one run. Sadi Hartman collected one hit that went for two bases and drove in a run, while Kassy Opferman had one hit and a pair of RBIs. Haily Martinez and Aryan Meyers each had one hit and an RBI, while Lexi Baker had one hit to close out the offense.
In the circle Helen Hayes tossed all seven innings, allowing just the two runs. Only one was earned. She gave up four hits and walked five. She struck out 13 Lady Scorpions in the game, while throwing 135 pitches.
Three days prior the Lady Broncs began HDL action with a trip to Boron. Kern Valley behind the strong pitching effort of Hayes and the team hitting easily took this one 11-0 in five innings.
Neither team was able to score in the first, but then the Lady Broncs broke it open with a six-run second. The offense followed that with five runs in the third to take the commanding 11-0 lead.
Hayes took care of the Lady Bobcats as she came one batter short of perfection. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, a Boron batter was able to reach on an error to wave bye-bye to perfection. Hayes threw only 58 pitches to pick up the win. She struck out four of the 16 batters she faced. The only other batter to get the bat on the ball, besided the error was a pop up in the infield.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Lady Broncs were led by Hayes who collected four hits, including a double. She plated three runs. Hartman drilled a double and was credited with a pair of RBIs, while Martinez had one hit and recorded three RBIs. Opferman had one hit and an RBI, while Hannah Ocampo had one hit. Acosta was credited with an RBI in the contest.
The two victories put Kern Valley atop the HDL standings where they hope to be at the end of the year.
Getting in some much needed field time, the Lady Broncs competed in the Mira Monte Tournament. The first two games were played on March 14 against Taft and East High of Bakersfield.
Against the Lady Wildcats of Taft, a battle ensued. Each team was able to put three runs on the scoreboard, but that would be it. The game would end in a 3-3 tie.
Kern Valley took the early lead as they put one up on the board in the first. They added two more in the third to gain the 3-0 advantage. In the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Wildcats erupted for three runs to knot the game at three. The rest of the way the pitchers dominated.
Kern Valley as a team collected only four hits. Martinez had the lone extra base hit with a double. Acosta, Krista Witten and Meyers each had one hit in the contest. Witten recorded the only RBI for the Lady Broncs. As a team the Lady Broncs struck out eight times.
Hayes threw all seven innings allowing just three hits. She gave up only one earned run of the three allowed. She walked four, hit one batter and struck out 12.
The next game with East High was all Lady Blades. Kern Valley giving Hayes a rest used two jayvee pitchers called up to help eat up some innings. Despite two monster scoring innings the young ladies fared well. Molly Watson and Sierra Klase were initiated into varsity high school softball as they each threw three innings. They combined to allow 19 hits, 12 runs. They walked two batters and struck out four in their effort. Klases pitching line was three innings pitched, seven runs allowed, only six earned on 12 hits. She did not walk a batter and struck out one. Watson in her three innings allowed five runs, only four earned on seven hits. She walked two and struck out three.
The Lady Broncs were limited to just five hits in the game. They were led by Hartman, who smacked a solo home run and a single. Her yard job was her only RBI. Acosta had a pair of hits, including a double, while Hayes had one hit that went for two bases. Ocampo was credited with an RBI.
The tournament action resumed on Saturday for Kern Valley. They played Delano in the first game of the day. The Lady Tigers scored early and often as they claimed the game 14-6.
Delano scored four in the first inning. Kern Valley answered with one in their half of the first. The Lady Tigers added three in the second to open a 7-1 cushion. The Lady Broncs responded in the third with three runs to close the gap. Delano exploded for five runs in the fourth to expand their lead to 12-4. Kern Valley put up two in the fourth, but that would be it for the offense. Delano added two more in the fifth to close out the scoring and send the Lady Broncs to the loss.
Kern Valley was led offensively by Hartman with three hits, including a double. Martinez had one hit that was a two-bagger, while Anne Keverline, Bailey Hurst, Opferman and Baker each had one hit.
Meyers recorded a pair of RBIs, while Keverline, Witten and Baker had one RBI apiece.
Klase got another chance to pitch for the varsity Lady Broncs and was saddled with the loss. She went the five innings allowing the 14 runs on 15 hits. Only eight of the runs were earned. She walked four and struck out three.
In the final game of the tournament, the Lady Broncs faced off with Garces. It was Watsons’ turn to earn some varsity experience. The Lady Broncs offensively were held in check as they managed just four hits in the 12-1 loss.
The Lady Rams took control early and never looked back. They opened with three runs in the first. They out up two in the second and finished with seven in the fourth. The Lady Broncs scored their lone run in the fourth.
Hartman led the team with two of the four hits. Ocampo and Baker had one hit apiece. Witten was credited with the lone RBI for Kern Valley.
Watson pitched four innings giving up eight hits. She allowed the 12 runs, only eight earned. She walked three and struck out a pair of Lady Rams.
The Lady Broncs currently sit at 4-5-1 on the year, but 2-0 in the HDL. They got back into league play on Tuesday as they took on the Lady Falcons of Frazier Mountain. The game was played on the Lady Broncs home field
Kern Valley will be back at home on Friday as the Lady Roadrunners of Rosamond come to town.