Prep Baseball & Softball

Central Valley Christian shows grit in winning section softball title

Central Valley Christian players celebrate winning the Central Section Division VI softball championship May 17 at Bulldog Diamond.
Central Valley Christian players celebrate winning the Central Section Division VI softball championship May 17 at Bulldog Diamond. Special to The Bee

Leadoff hitter Leah Zwart suffers a broken thumb the day before the semifinals? No problem.

Lone senior Lauren Reed is delivering the salutatorian speech the next day at graduation? She kept her game face on.

Central Valley Christian High rolled to the school’s first Central Section softball championship in 21 years.

CVC beat Foothill 7-0 in the Divison VI final May 17 at Margie Wright Diamond at Fresno State. Junior pitcher Rylie Atherton capped a sensational year with a two-hitter with nine strikeouts, and Gina Dykstra had two hits and three RBIs while playing third base after coming from the outfield.

That move was one of five shifts the Cavaliers had to do after first baseman Zwart broke her thumb during the final drill of practice May 13. It also left CVC with just 11 healthy players.

Coach Cindy Atherton said the Cavaliers face-timed Zwart during their team lunch (she would soon head to surgery) then blasted nemesis Bakersfield Christian 10-3 in the semifinal. BC had beaten CVC in their last two meetings, including the 2018 semifinals.

CVC (14-10) finished tied for fifth in the Central Sequoia League that featured D-II champion Kingsburg and D-III runner-up Kingsburg, Atherton was voted CSL Pitcher of the Year. She ranked fifth in the state with 273 strikeouts (130 in CSL games) and fifth in the state with four no-hitters.

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