Firebaugh High didn’t even need a hit to find a way to win over top-seeded Caruthers.
The Eagles just needed to get on base, flying their way to a 7-1 win over the Blue Raiders for the Division V championship – the school’s first in the sport – to kick off a weekend of Central Section title games at Fresno State’s Margie Wright Diamond.
“We play hardball,” an emotional Eagles coach Lisa Moody said. “We play aggressive and we believe each and every one of us can get the job done.”
It’s something we worked so hard for and I’m so proud of my whole team.
Firebaugh senior Liliana Berber, whose 70th career win secured the Eagles’ first Central Section softball championship
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Four players stole two bases apiece for the Eagles (19-7) and the team stole 10 in all as its aggressive baserunning toppled the West Sierra League champion Blue Raiders (22-8) in their third meeting this season. The teams split the first two games.
“We practice that. That’s what we do. That’s Firebaugh softball,” Moody said of a team that entered Friday with 218 steals on the season.
Caruthers starter Sydney Kuma struck out 12 and took a no-hitter into the fourth, but it was her seven walks and two wild pitches, along with seven team errors, that gave the Eagles the advantage.
“They stole a lot of bases on us and really had the edge on that,” Caruthers coach Jeff Day said. “Hats off to (Firebaugh). They played good. They got on base and made it happen.”
3 hits for Firebaugh, which made up for it with 10 steals in its section D-V championship win over Caruthers
Firebaugh drew consecutive walks to start the first, then stole three bases in the inning before scoring twice on a wild pitch and a misplay in the infield that allowed the second runner to make her way home.
Kuma put Caruthers on the board in the bottom of the inning, leading off with a triple and scoring on a throwing error.
But it was all Firebaugh from there, as senior Liliana Berber (19-2) fired six scoreless innings to notch her 70th career win.
The Eagles scored two runs in the fourth on an error and Ruby Campa’s RBI single.
In the sixth, Firebaugh capitalized on a series of Caruthers mistakes, scoring twice on two walks, two steals and an error.
“It’s something we worked so hard for and I’m so proud of my whole team,” Berber said. “We finally pulled through and came through and played our hearts out. It’s exciting.”
Central Section softball finals: Day 2
Saturday at Fresno State’s Margie Wright Diamond
▪ Division I: No. 1 Buchanan vs. No. 2 Clovis, 7 p.m.
▪ D-III: No. 2 Hanford vs. No. 8 Independence, 2 p.m.
▪ D-IV: No. 1 Selma vs. No. 2 Mission Oak, 11:30 a.m.
▪ D-VI: No. 1 Orange Cove vs. No. 2 Parlier, 4:30 p.m.