By Sage Tippie
In the “Strike Out Cancer” game, varsity softball vanquished the Gators 17-2 at home on Friday, April 28, clinching the class 4a Sunrise League title.
The Cougars started off the first inning strong with Dylan Underwood, senior, earning the first point with a hit and running home. Pitcher Ashley Ward, sophomore, followed with a homerun. Running home, Taylor Okamura, senior, earned the Cougars yet another point, ending the first inning with a lead 3-0.
“I feel like as a team we wanted to work harder and do well because it was the ‘Strike Out Cancer’ game. Ms. Harper has done so much for the team, and we wanted to be able to give back to her. It meant a lot to play for this cause because my grandma passed away from breast cancer, so I wanted to do especially well this game and raise money for cancer prevention,” Okamura said.
With the Gators up to bat, they hit an RBI, resulting in their only two points of the game. The Cougars continued their success through the second inning with Alexis Okamura, senior, earning a run, resulting in the fourth point of the game, followed by Underwood, leaving the Cougs 5-2. The Cougars earned three more points with a triple run by Erica Hardy, senior, and juniors Tatum Spangler and Alayna Lopez. Taylor Okamura hit an RBI, earning the Cougars two more points. Ward wrapped up the second with another run, leaving the the Gators in the dust 11-2.
“I was excited when I realized we were going to win the game because I knew that game locked us into first place for the league. Coming in first is important because it guarantees us the first three games of regionals at Coronado, which gives us the home team advantage. I think our team chemistry and hard work has attributed to our success. We all work together so well, and I think that has really been a key part of our victories this season,” Hardy said.
The Cougars continued to dominate when Lopez earned a run at the top of the third. Taylor Okamura earned yet another point, running home, followed by Sophia McCann, senior, ending the third 14-2.
The Cougs finished the game strong with valuable defense by Ward, preventing the Gators from getting any last-minute points. Spanglar put the Cougars further ahead, earning another run. Ward seized the last two points of the game with an RBI, leaving the final score at 17-2. The game ended at the fourth inning due to the 15 run rule. Support the seniors at Senior Night for the last home game of the season on Wednesday, May 3, at 3:30.
“Getting the final win to clinch the one seed in league play was amazing. Everyone has worked so hard to get to this point, and I hope our success continues to playoffs,” Spanglar said.