Alyssa Avila figured she wouldn’t get the opportunity to deliver the hit that propelled Central High to its second Clovis Easter Softball Classic title.
Not after the dust-up she was in in the middle of the inning before.
“I was expecting to get hit (by a pitch),” Avila said. “But I had to do something for my team, control my emotions and win the game.”
Avila thought retaliation was coming after she gave a shove at the head of Jordyn Martinez following a play at the plate to end the bottom of the sixth.
Instead, the senior catcher and San Jose State recruit ripped a go-ahead, two-run double to the fence in left-center in the top of the seventh as the No. 2 Grizzlies rallied to beat No. 1 Clovis 4-2 on Tuesday at the Buchanan Softball Complex in the finale of the 20-team tournament that featured 10 of The Bee’s Top 15-ranked Central Section teams.
Cougars coach Mike Noel said the umpire told him Avila was allowed to remain in the game because he ruled that she didn’t take a swing at Martinez.
Noel, who didn’t question the umpire’s decision, said he didn’t see the incident after turning away from home plate when Martinez got tagged out by Avila on a throw from left fielder Analissa Acevedo. Martinez was trying to score from second on a run-scoring single by Kennedy Diaz that put Clovis ahead 2-1.
Avila said she got entangled with Martinez on the play and felt that her arm got twisted by the Clovis pinch-hitter as they came to their feet, which prompted her to react.
“Emotions got the best of me,” said Avila, a two-time All-Bee honoree. “That’s not the type of player I am.”
Central’s winning rally started when pinch-hitter Haivyn Sanchez drew a one-out walk on a full-count pitch from Brielle Vidmar. Breanna Martin followed with a single to center, setting the stage for Avila.
“It’s impressive she could gather herself after kind of losing it a little and come through at a big time,” Grizzlies coach Scott Gorton said. “She’s a four-year starter and an All-Bee player and she showed why tonight.”
Central ace Gianna Mancha and counterpart Vidmar were dominant through five innings.
Vidmar cracked first when Martin reached on an error and eventually scored on Mancha’s single for a 1-0 Grizzlies lead in the top of the sixth.
But Clovis got to Mancha in the bottom half as Martinez’s pinch single brought Cameryn Reichle home with the tying run, and Alyssa Caballero scored on Diaz’ hit.
“I was proud of my team for coming back,” Noel said. “And I was very impressed with their team for scoring again.”
Central also won the Easter Classic in 2012, preceding its first section title run. The Grizzlies appear armed for another run at the section title behind the right-handed sophomore Mancha, who improved to 16-2 after a five-inning three-hitter in a 2-0 semifinal win over Buchanan and a six-hitter against Clovis.
“I had my whole team behind me,” Mancha said. “They played great defense and came up with clutch hits.”
Mancha, who has given an oral commitment to Boise State, is the latest in a line of successful pitchers at Central that includes Rachel Rodriguez, Lindsey Clarkson and Morgan Reiter, all of whom went on to play in college.
“She fits right in that mold,” Gorton said of Mancha. “She’s got a chance to be the best of them all.”