BARSTOW The long stretches of almost unending grass in right and center field at the Barstow High School softball field can be equal amounts hitters' playground and outfielders' nightmare.
With no wall to enclose the field, hit a ball hard into those regions and there's a good chance it might keep rolling. As an outfielder there's an even higher percentage of looking silly by misjudging the ball by just a bit.
The Aztecs were able to make it their playground more times than not enroute to a 6-5 win on Wednesday afternoon.
Barstow (9-6; 5-2 Desert Sky League) registered two home runs and three triples all hit into the open field for their fourth straight win. Sultana also hit two homers during the loss.
"It's really good to see the girls sitting back and hitting the ball hard," Barstow coach Daron Banks said. "We tweeked the lineup today just to see what would happen some good things, some bad things."
Banks moved Kiana Duran, who was batting toward the bottom of the lineup, into the second slot and switched around several other players. Banks said he'll probably return to a more familiar lineup when the Aztecs finish their two-game series with Sultana today a 3 p.m. in Hesperia.
After a scoreless first inning, both teams started sending shots into the open field. With Sultana (9-9; 2-6 Mojave River League) up 1-0, Barstow tied the score when Andrea Kolwyck, who was 3-for-3, hit a shot into center field.
Sultana leadoff hitter, Patricia Manser did the same in the top of the third inning to put the Sultans up again with a hit that landed just over Kolwyck's outstretched arms.
Alyssa Maldonado tied the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the third with another home run to deep center field.
Barstow finally gained the lead in the fourth inning, still using the open outfield to their advantage but without any home runs. Nicole Ulivarri ledoff the inning with a triple into center field. Kolwyck brought Ulivarri home with an RBI single.
The Aztecs took a 6-3 lead before Sultana started to make a comeback in the seventh inning. The Sultans picked a run with no outs, scored another to draw the game to 6-5 and eventually had the possible winning run at the plate. Any shot into the outfield could have scored two runs and tied up the game.
"I was a little nervous because there was runners on the bag and any shot between the gaps they would have scored and tied the game," Duran said.
Barstow pitcher Hannah Ulibarri, who finished with eight strikeouts, struckout Mary Navarro to earn the first out and Kolwyck and Nicole Mathews each caught pop ups in the outfield to end the game without a nightmare scenario unfolding for the Aztecs.
"With our outfielders, it's just basics," Banks said. "We've worked hard on getting a good line to the ball because if that ball gets past you it's just going to go. Take a good line and always the first step is backwards."
Sultana 011 001 2 5 10 2
Barstow 011 121 X 6 11 6
Parker and Larabell; Ulibarri and Schreiner. WP Ulibarri. LP Parker. 2B Duran (B). 3B Maldonado, Ulivarri, Mathews (B). HR Maldonado, Kolwyck (B), Masner, Larabell (S).
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