Clovis News: Sports

Scare helps Bears softball focus

The eighth win of a 9-0 start for defending Central Section Division I softball champion Buchanan High didn't sit well with coach Dean Gregory.

Los Banos arrived at the Buchanan Softball Complex 2-7 and was promptly routed 11-0 in the first game of a nonleague doubleheader.

But Buchanan would need a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out a 6-5 victory in a second game that featured four Bears' errors.

"That second game of the Los Banos doubleheader was a disappointment to me," Gregory said. "There was a letdown. Hopefully, they learned the lesson that you've got to take everyone seriously."

If their next game was any indication, the Bears got the message.

Natalie Rendon, who caught fire down the stretch last year to lead Buchanan to its fourth section title, pitched a no-hitter, Kelsey Dodd powered a 13-hit attack and the defense was error-free in a 7-0 victory over Golden Valley-Merced.

The Bears, who are the section's only undefeated team above Division IV, debut today atop The Bee's first rankings of the season. Buchanan also is ranked No. 15 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

"Our thing is to keep them focused on playing well," said Gregory, whose team returns nine players from last season. "I don't want them to worry about who's on the other side of the field, just play their game and see what happens."

Second-ranked Clovis West (11-2), which earned a doubleheader split with state No. 11-ranked Archbishop Mitty-San Jose over the weekend, appears poised to challenge for the D-I title with a team featuring Ohio State-bound slugger Leesa Gresham and emerging pitcher Sydney White.

The rest of The Bee's Top 5 consists of last season's D-I runner-up Stockdale, which returns ace pitcher Justine Vela; defending Tri-River Athletic Conference champ Central, which is powered by the dynamic offensive duo of Marla Reiter and Brittny Embrey; and reigning D-III champion Hanford West, which has a pair of solid pitchers in Breanna Young and Briana Pontecorvo.

"Buchanan is the deepest team for sure, but on the right day, they can be beat, too," Central coach Scott Gorton said. "It should be a very competitive season top to bottom."

Clovis Easter Classic

Eight of The Bee's Top 10 teams will be in action during the 20-team, three-day tournament at Buchanan.

Pool play is Saturday and Monday, with bracket play to decide the champion Tuesday.

Pool A: Centennial, No. 7 Clovis, Golden West, Redwood and Sanger.

Pool B: No. 1 Buchanan, Clovis North, No. 9 Frontier, Hanford and Memorial.

Pool C: No. 4 Central, No. 2 Clovis West, El Diamante, Lemoore, Mission Oak.

Pool D: Bullard, No. 8 Clovis East, Dinuba, No. 5 Hanford West and No. 6 Madera.