In the moment, it was a timely home run off a nemesis pitcher.
In retrospect, it was the blast that launched Clovis High toward an eighth Central Section softball championship.
Cameryn Reichle’s solo shot off Central ace Gianna Mancha snapped a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning and sparked a 3-0 Cougars victory May 1 that dropped the Grizzlies from a share of the Tri-River Athletic Conference lead.
It also provided a mental boost for Clovis after it had lost two close games to Central, 4-2 in the championship of the Clovis Easter Classic and 3-2 in the first round of TRAC play.
“After the first two games against Central, we knew our season was going to come down to us beating them,” said Reichle, The Bee’s Softball Player of the Year. “Gianna Mancha is an incredible pitcher, and it’s always been a little hard to get our offense going against her.
“I believed I had to get something started. I didn’t go up thinking I needed a home run, but I had to make good contact. I was given a great pitch in the right opportunity. After that, it lifted up our spirits. Everyone was able to say ‘we can do this.’ It definitely pumped us up.”
Twenty days later, bolstered by the confidence Reichle’s homer helped provide, top-seeded Clovis beat Mancha and the second-seeded Grizzlies again 2-0 for the Division I title.
“(Reichle’s home run) sort of set the tone for the rest of the year,” Cougars coach Mike Noel said. “And she did that all year for us. When we needed a big hit, she was the one who got it.”
The senior catcher bound for Fresno State set a school single-season record with 54 RBIs while hitting .468 with seven doubles, three triples, two homers and 35 runs for Clovis (33-6), which finished No. 17 in the final state top 35 by Cal-Hi Sports.
Reichle joined Cougars legend Amanda Scott (1996) as they only players in school history to finish a season with at least 30 runs and 30 RBIs.
“I just did everything I could to get a couple runs for our team and our pitchers,” Reichle said. “It helps the defense out a bunch when you can go out with a couple of runs. If there were two runners on, I went up thinking I needed to score at least one.”
That Reichle put her name in the school record books comes as no surprise to Noel, who asked Reichle to move from center field to catcher as a sophomore and watched her blossom into a five-tool talent who was selected All-TRAC three times and All-West Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association after her senior season.
“She’s ultra-competitive,” Noel said. “She wants people to think of her as the best and that drives her. She’s a girl who doesn’t back down from a challenge. The bigger the moment, the better she becomes.”
Reichle’s all-around talents were showcased in the section final.
Her quickness getting from behind the plate to field a sacrifice bunt and strong arm allowed her to cut down the lead runner after Central broke up a perfect game bid with a leadoff walk in the top of the fifth inning.
Then her speed helped create an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when she broke from first and stopped midway to second, daring San Jose State-bound catcher Alyssa Avila to throw her out with the speedy Cayla Broussard at third. Avila threw wildly to second and Broussard scored.
“I’m very hard on myself as a player,” Reichle said. “I don’t like to be mediocre. I don’t settle for anything. I always try to push myself to the next level and see what plays I can push myself to make. It helps my team to know they can count on me to make the plays.”
The Bee’s Softball Player of the Year
- School: Clovis
- Grade: Senior
- Qualifications: Knocked in school-record 54 runs while driving Cougars to the Central Section Division I title and No. 17 final state ranking by Cal-Hi Sports. Four-year varsity performer and Fresno State recruit hit .468 with seven doubles, three triples, two home runs and 35 runs while earning All-Tri-River Athletic Conference honors for the third time. All-West Region selection by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association joined Amanda Scott (1996) as the only players in Clovis history to have at least 30 runs and 30 RBIs in a single season.
Softball Fab 50 All-Star Team
- Alyssa Avila, senior, C, Central
- Cayla Broussard, senior, SS, Clovis
- Mackenzie Emmett, senior, OF, Clovis
- Kelcey Carrasco, junior, catcher, Tulare Western
- Rebekah Cervantes, senior, SS, Redwood
- Cassidy Clark, junior, 2B, Clovis West
- Aaliyah Cuevas, sophomore, OF, Madera
- Alyssa DeLaCruz, senior, SS-P, Clovis West
- Mikayla Deigan, senior, P/INF, Washington
- Teddi Diedrich, senior, C, Firebaugh
- Mya Felder, freshman, 3B/1B, Clovis East
- Alex Flores, senior, SS, Fowler
- Ammari Gaines, senior, SS, Chowchilla
- Chiwa Garcia, junior, 2B, Bullard
- Sofia Garcia, sophomore, P, Fresno
- Lindsey Gilmore, senior, C, Caruthers
- Haileigh Gonzalez, senior, 2B, Redwood
- Jessica Gonzalez, senior, C-3B, Kingsburg
- Halle Harger, sophomore, 2B, Hanford West
- Kristen Heffley, senior, OF, Hanford West
- Stephanie Herring, freshman, C, Sanger
- Dom Humphrey, senior, OF/P, Reedley
- Sierra Ipsen, senior, P, Riverdale
- Katie January, sophomore, P/OF, Buchanan
- Crimson Kaiser, senior, P/3B, Redwood
- Sienna Kendricks, senior, OF, Bullard
- Valerie Lopez, junior, UTL, Orange Cove
- Mikayla Maggini, senior, 1B, Riverdale
- Mariah Mazon, sophomore, P/1B, Mission Oak
- Destenie McMillon, senior, OF, Madera
- Kiannah Molina, senior, C, Sierra Pacific
- Camryn Monreal, sophomore, P/1B, Clovis East
- Anisah Navarro, junior, SS, Selma
- Brayden Nunley, sophomore, P, Tulare
- Renee Ortega, senior, 2B, Liberty-Madera Ranchos
- Lina Padilla, senior, P, Lindsay
- Lily Perez, junior, OF/INF, Sanger
- Rylee Pierce, senior, C, El Diamante
- Claudia Puente, senior, P, Bullard
- Desiree Reyes, sophomore, SS, Edison
- Spencer Sansom, junior, OF, Buchanan
- Cassidy Santa Cruz, junior, P, Liberty-Madera Ranchos
- Nicole Sosa, senior, 1B, Madera South
- Sienna Swain, junior, SS, Buchanan
- Maddi Tuttle, senior, SS/3B/2B, Dinuba
- Makenna Young, senior, C, Hanford West
- Starr Vang, junior, 1B, Buchanan
- Linnay Wilson, sophomore, P/3B, Coalinga
- Jessica Wright, senior, P, Sunnyside
- Karen Zamora, senior, 1B, Central