The Connell girls softball team set out to prove they could get the job done against top teams without Ashley Thompson, last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Washington.
The Eagles made a big statement against Warden, who came into Saturday’s doubleheader undefeated at 11-0 overall and 6-0 in the SCAC East.
But with patience at the plate and an opportunistic approach on the basepaths, Connell completed a 7-5, 7-2 sweep against the Cougars and star pitcher Aaliyah Enriquez.
“When our hitters are struggling, we play small ball. We smack the ball around and make things happen,” Eagles coach Andy Sawyer said. “We took advantage of their defense, stole bases often and went on passed balls.”
Connell pitcher Makenna Mathis did a good job holding things down on the mound, allowing two runs through the first six innings for a 7-2 lead before Alicia Gonzalez blasted a three-run home run in the top of the seventh.
In Game 2, Warden (11-2 overall, 6-2 SCAC East) scored two runs in the top of the first, but then it was all Eagles. Mathis helped her own cause with two hits, including a home run. Gonzalez struck out nine, but she also walked a few batters.
“When they walked us, we were way too fast,” Sawyer said. “We didn’t even have our hitters going. It’s hard to shut us down, even if we’re not hitting. We’ll do whatever we can to win.”
The sweep allowed the Eagles (24-3-1, 10-0) to clinch a share of the league title. With one more league doubleheader left — at Columbia-Burbank at 3 p.m. Tuesday — all Connell needs is a split to secure the outright league title.
Warden 100 001 3 — 5 6 2
Connell 211 120 x — 7 5 4
Aaliyah Enriquez and Juliana Pruneda, Lexi Pruneda (3); MaKenna Mathis and Dakota Olberding. Highlights—Mathis (C) 2B, 7 Ks; Brittany Vickerman (C) 3B; Lili Rodriguez (C) 2x2; Enriquez (W) 9 Ks; Brenna Whitney (W) 3x4; Alicia Gonzalez (W) HR, 3 RBI.
Warden 200 000 0 — 2 4 3
Connell 320 020 x — 7 2 1
Enriquez and L.Pruneda; Mathis and Olberding. Highlights—B.Whitney (W) 2B; Gonzalez (W) 2B, 9 Ks; Mathis (C) 2x3, HR, 3 Ks.