By John Blomster
Softball games are often dominated by pitching and the one-on-one matchups that permeate the game’s series of frames are usually in the hands of the person that toes the rubber.
Balboa High School’s mid-game meltdown, however, demonstrated that the ability to catch and field can sometimes overshadow a pitcher’s talent, as the Buccaneers took a 12-3 loss to Wallenberg High School at Rossi Field Tuesday afternoon.
In a critical third inning, Wallenberg (3-1) took advantage of a profusion of errors that allowed them to strike for nine runs before Balboa (3-1) was able to record the second out. Of Wallenberg’s 12 total runs, only three were earned.
“I’m surprised at the outcome, but the girls worked hard,” said Wallenberg Head Coach John Segale. “Awareness was the key. On the bases, we always have to be aware and take what the defense gives us.”
Amid the succession of baserunners, Wallenberg starting pitcher Andrea Mochida and catcher Rani Chow contributed to four runs in the inning.
Mochida reached base in each of her four at-bats and had an RBI with two doubles and scored three runs, while Chow went 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored.
Mochida was effective on the rubber as well, holding the Buccaneers to three runs, only one of which was earned, on four hits over five innings. The Wallenberg starter struck out nine and walked six.
“I told [Andrea] to just get the ball over the plate,” said Segale. “Last game she threw 122 pitches, so I’m really impressed with her performance today.”
Despite the steady cycle of runners, the Bulldogs only managed six hits in four innings off Balboa starter Donna Liu.
Liu walked seven and fanned nine, but three of her strikeout victims reached first on passed balls.
“The girls will learn from the loss,” said Balboa Coach Lindsey Burdick. “Last year was our first team in four years, so we’ve come a long way from having no experience. It’s just that the errors were the problem.”