Clovis News: Sports

Clovis softball stuns No. 1 Bullard

There was nothing to suggest that Clovis High was a threat when the Central Section softball playoffs began this week.

The Cougars tied for fourth in the Tri-River Athletic Conference and were the No. 9 seed among 10 teams in Division I -- an afterthought at best.

But not in the mind of Cougars pitcher Kacy Moritz.

"As soon as we hit the playoffs, I thought in the back of my mind that we'd break out of our shell and explode on teams."

So far, that premonition is looking mighty good.

Clovis scored five runs in the top of the seventh and stunned host and No. 1 Bullard 6-3 Thursday -- snapping the Knights' 15-game winning streak.

Chelse Roberts hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly, and Alissa Gutierrez and Tiffani Balladares singled in runs.

The Cougars (22-13) will play at No. 4 Buchanan in the semifinals Tuesday.

"This is a special time of the year, and we knew what we'd have to do when we got here," said Cougars coach Mike Noel, whose team beat No. 8 Clovis East 4-1 in the opening round.

Moritz, doing her part, also rallied. The senior right-hander was tagged for three runs on four hits in the second, then stiffened the rest of the way and finished with an eight-hitter.

Alejandra Diaz hit a two-run single and sister Nicole knocked her in with a double.

"I was, like, oh-oh in that second," Moritz said. "But I knew we'd win. I just kept focusing on my spots and went after every batter as hard as I could."

Clovis got to Bullard ace Adriana Bencomo in the sixth on Gutierrez's triple with Roberts aboard on a leadoff walk.

But it appeared the Knights would answer in a big way in their half of the inning. Lauren Zenimura opened with a double to right-center and went to third on Katie Greis' single.

Moritz got out of the jam by getting Alec Aguilar to hit into a forceout, Bencomo on a tap back to the circle and Angela Fausone on a deep fly to right.

"Kacy gives up runs, but she never loses her composure," Noel said. "Her gutsy performance allowed us to stay in it and finally make things happen."

Bullard hasn't played too many pressure games this season and it came back to haunt coach Jamie Maxie's team in the seventh. Two throwing errors opened the door for five unearned runs.

Clovis sent nine batters to the plate and chased Bencomo.

"We've been a sound defensive team all year, but Clovis has speed and put the pressure on our defense, something we really hadn't faced in a while," said Maxie, whose team exits at 23-7. "This is disappointing, especially when you can taste victory and it slips through your fingers.

"Our mistake was not pushing through for more runs early when we had the chance," Maxie said. "We sat on the lead and didn't get the timely hits."

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