Clovis News: Sports

Huskies top rival Hanford for softball title

HANFORD - Hanford West High softball coach Arnie Garza hit one out of the ballpark pointing out the relevance of Thursday's historic Division III championship clash with crosstown rival Hanford.

"No matter who wins," he said before the game, "the town of Hanford is victorious here."

In the end, it was Garza's Huskies who won 2-0 at home for the program's second Central Section championship.

Breanna Young threw a one-hitter, and Bria Kennedy scored the first run on a passed ball in the first inning and drove in the other with a single in the fifth.

This was small-town Americana at its finest.

An overflow crowd witnessed the first section championship matchup between the schools in any sport since newcomer Hanford West began competitive athletics 10 years ago.

America's colors covered the stands. Huskies students painted their bodies blue and white; and the Bullpups faithful was decked out in red for this family reunion.

Players from both dugouts grew up together -- attending the same elementary schools -- and played on travel teams as one. Hanford assistant coach Ralph Alcala's daughter Kelsey was in center field for the Bullpups and his niece, Cassie Alcala, pinch-ran for the Huskies.

"This was for bragging rights of Hanford," Garza said. "When you go to the barber shop, now you'll have something to talk about."

Hanford West reached the final as the No. 4 seed. Hanford was No. 6. The Huskies had the easier road, beating No. 5 Dinuba and No. 9 Clovis North. The Bullpups earned their way, knocking off No. 3 Tehachapi and No. 2 Ridgeview.

This was the third time the Hanford schools squared off this year. Hanford West won the first game 7-0 and Hanford the rematch 2-1. But the rubber match was all Huskies, from start to finish.

"We worked so hard for this and it paid off," said the freshman Kennedy.

The lone hit off Young, a sophomore right-hander, came from the bat of her pitching counterpart Sydney Raeber -- a slow roller to short in the fifth.

"We hit the ball hard, but couldn't find any holes," Hanford coach Donnie Fagundes said.

Afterward, the Huskies hoisted the championship hardware and slipped candy ring pops onto their fingers.

"It represents the Valley championship rings we're going to get," Young said. "I just hope we can still be friends with Hanford."

Don't be surprised to see the Huskies back in the final as soon as next year. This is a team solely of underclassmen.

Garza crossed two fingers and said, "Can we come back? I sure hope so."

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