Clovis High has produced some of the most prolific pitchers in Central Section softball history, from Amanda Scott to Jamie Southern to Jennifer Reynolds.
The Cougars appear to have another dandy on their hands.
And she delivered a gem in a huge setting Friday afternoon.
Freshman right-hander Danielle Lung pitched a five-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts to lead The Bee’s Central Section No. 3-ranked Clovis over No. 2 Central 3-0 to separate the Grizzlies from a three-way share of first place in the Tri-River Athletic Conference softball race with the Cougars and top-ranked Buchanan. Clovis hosts the Bears at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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Under the tutelage of veteran pitching coach Mike Salazar, Lung has played her way into a more prominent role as the season has progressed for the Cougars (28-6, 6-2).
“We kind of worked her in slowly purposely,” Clovis coach Mike Noel said. “We let her get her legs under her in the beginning of the year and she’s really improving now. Today we saw what she can be — pretty dominant.”
Lung got herself in trouble in the top of the first when she allowed a leadoff single to Breanna Martin and a one-out double to Alyssa Avila that put runners at second and third. But Lung struck out Central cleanup hitter Karen Zamora and pitching counterpart Gianna Mancha — they entered hitting .398 and .365, respectively — to end the inning.
Lung didn’t allow another runner to reach second base until the seventh inning, when she worked out of another two-on, one-out jam to improve to 16-1 on the season.
“She just needed an opportunity to show how great she is,” Clovis catcher Cameryn Reichle said. “She is going to be a stud pitcher when she’s older. She’s already amazing now, but who knows where she’ll go.”
A third-year varsity performer, Reichle ripped a low line drive over the right field fence in the bottom of the fourth inning to put Clovis up 1-0.
The shot allowed Lung to relax and finish off the Grizzlies (31-7, 5-3).
“Once Cameryn hit that home run, I really focused,” Lung said. “I said. ‘I’ve got to do this and shut them down.’ ”
Reichle said she felt she had to step up for the Cougars after losses of 4-2 and 3-2 in their previous two meetings this season against Central.
“I knew we needed something to get us going,” Reichle said. “So I just did what I felt was necessary for my team. We came out ready to play. We came out for first place, not a close second.”
Clovis, still riding high from Reichle’s blast off Central ace Mancha, added to its lead in the fifth on Danielle Stearns’ two-run single.
“Cameryn’s home run was real big for us,” Noel said. “She put us on her back emotionally. Anytime you can get one like that off a very good pitcher, it puts you in a good mindset.”
Buchanan retained its share of first place in the TRAC with an 8-3 victory over Clovis West that featured a 4-for-4, two-RBI performance from winning pitcher Katie January. Clovis closes the regular season May 8 at Clovis West, while the Bears wrap up the same day at Clovis North.
Playoff pairings across the section’s six divisions will be announced May 9.