Mackenzie Jacobsen, Serenity Castro, Breanne Tabarez, Anyssa Garvin and Taylor Jacobsen completed about as big a turnaround as possible Saturday afternoon at Margie Wright Diamond.
The five Hanford High School softball standouts went from losers of 17 of their first 19 games as freshmen to Central Section champions as seniors, all contributing to the second-seeded Bullpups’ 7-3 victory over No. 8 Independence in the Division III final.
It was Hanford’s fifth section softball title, but its first since 1987.
“We all came together as a team,” said Garvin, who was 2 for 4 and earned the win in the circle. “After the four years, we put it together. We were just confident today.
“This means so much to us. It hasn’t happened in a long time and we really wanted to do it, so we had to make some adjustments and believe in each other. I knew my team had my back, and I knew if I hit my spots they would back me up.”
Positioned Nos. 2-6 in Hanford’s lineup, all five had a hand in a five-run bottom of the third that saw the Bullpups (18-11-1) turn a 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 lead.
Mackenzie Jacobsen got it started with a one-out single. Castro brought her home with a double to right-center. Tabarez knocked in Castro with a double to left, and Garvin scored Tabarez with a double to left-center. Taylor Jacobsen, Mackenzie’s twin sister, was hit by a pitch and scored on a two-run single by Aliyah Garvin, Anyssa’s younger sister.
“We’ve worked four years with these seniors,” Hanford coach Donnie Fagundes said. “They’ve been working their butts off and finally it comes together this year for them. I’m really happy for the seniors.”
Independence (15-15) twice opened leads – 1-0 in the first on Cindy Sanchez’s run-scoring single and 3-1 in the third on Ashley Mick’s two-run double – only to see the Bullpups rally both times.
“We’ve fell behind before this year, and in years past we would probably fall apart,” Fagundes said. “This year, one run didn’t bother me at all. They just toughed it out and kept battling. I knew one run wasn’t going to win this game. It all worked out.”
After giving up three runs on five hits and a walk through 2 1/3 innings, Anyssa Garvin retired 14 of the next 16 Falcons without allowing a run. She finished with five strikeouts.
“It was just relaxing and not getting so frustrated when I’m not getting calls,” Garvin said of overcoming her rocky start. “(I was) just trusting myself, trusting my ability. I know what I can do. And when I started trusting myself, that’s when I started to do good. And that’s when the team started to get more into it because they realized I was getting into it.”
Fagundes had no doubt the Stanislaus State-bound Garvin would right herself.
“She’s money in the bank. That kid has had our back all season,” Fagundes said. “She did good in the circle. She’s basically allowed us to be able to score a few runs to win games because she’s pitched so tough. She’s solid.”
Hanford 7, Independence 3
WP: Anyssa Garvin (5Ks). LP: Jocelyn Reyes. I, Arianna Egan 1-3, 2B, R; Jessica Munoz 1-3, R; Nicole Price 0-2, R; Ashley Mick 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Cindy Sanchez 1-3, RBI. H, Mackenzie Jacobsen 2-3, R; Serenity Castro 3-4, 2B, 3B, R, RBI; Breanna Tabarez 2-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI; Anyssa Garvin 2-4, 2B, RBI; Taylor Jacobsen 0-3, R; Hanna Murrieta1-3, R; Aliyah Garvin 2-2, 3B, 3 RBI.