BARSTOW • It was a beautiful day for a ballgame, and the Lady Vikings celebrated with their first win of the season.
The Barstow Community College softball team played its first home games, hosting the Lady Tartars of El Camino College-Compton Center for a doubleheader on Friday. The Vikings had taken part in tournaments during the previous month, and finished the tourney season winless. That streak came to an end with the first game on its home field, which BCC won, 9-7.
The Lady Vikings have been getting in their licks and scoring runs the past few weeks, but not enough to get a win. The team, which is comprised of all freshmen, has had a tendency to panic and let leads slip away when things go wrong. On Friday, BCC head coach Jenny Fregoso was encouraged to see her squad get ahead, and then preserve the win when the Tartars went on a late run.
"I have to give them credit, they didn't give up, but we fought for the win and I'm very happy with that," she said. "We're pretty evenly-matched, so for either team to win, they'd have to fight."
Starting in the circle for the Vikings was Alexis Conant, and she went the distance to secure the victory. She cruised through the first four innings, allowing just a pair of singles, with neither runner getting past first base. She faced four batters in each of the first three frames, then had a 1-2-3 fourth, fanning six along the way.
"Alexis was excellent. She's pitched well in some games we lost, so I'm glad to see her get the win," said coach Fregoso. "She had to battle at the end because they caught on to her pitches, but she kept her composure and held on. She did a great job."
The Vikings got their offense going in the bottom of the first, scoring three runs. Alexis Davis and Tessa Saenz both drew walks and Megan Carr reached on a fielder's choice, setting the table for Elise Westbury, who belted a double to center. Westbury was thrown out trying to make it a triple, but by that time the three runners were in.
Westbury came up big again in the third. The Victor Valley High School grad this time came to the plate with Carr, who singled, on base, and she whacked the ball to center again, only this time it cleared the fence for a two-run homer. Westbury had another RBI in the fourth. Carr walked, stole second and was wild-pitched to third, just waiting for Westbury to drive her in, which she did with a single. Westbury walked and scored in her next at-bat, leaving her a triple short of the cycle, with two runs scored and six RBI.
"Elise was batting fourth, but when she fell into a slump we moved her to fifth, and it's benefitted her and us," said Fregoso. "She's an excellent hitter, she just has to relax."
The Vikings led, 6-0, at the end of the fourth, but the Tartars weren't giving up. They made it a ballgame by scoring four times in the fifth. There were four singles in the frame, but also three errors. A defensive highlight was third baseman Westbury corraling a grounder with the bases loaded and relaying to home, where Saenz put down the tag to help put the brakes on the rally.
The Tartars tied the game, and then went up by a run in the top of the sixth. Elizabeth Morales got the big hit, a two-RBI double. And while El Camino may have begun to figure Conant out, she still managed to strike out the side.
That left BCC a run behind with six outs left. As it turned out, the home team would only need one more inning to put the game away.
"We've blown leads before, so this was great. To win in our last at-bat was a great ending," Fregoso said. "It was a little too close for comfort, but still great."
The Vikings started off by getting walks from their first three patient batters, Carr, Seanz and Westbury. Along the way, Carr stole a base, and when a wild throw sent the ball into the Vikings' dugout, it was ruled a dead ball, and Carr was sent home, tying the game at 7-7.
That was followed by two strikeouts, but Conant kept the inning alive by drawing a walk. Shelby Setter then stepped to the plate and sent a shot to the fence in left, bringing in Saenz and Westbury, and putting BCC up by two. Conant faced just three batters in the seventh, to secure the win.
Conant scattered nine hits, walked none and struck out 11 in victory. The Vikings' offense picked up eight hits off two Tartars pitchers. Setter hit a second-inning single as well as the double, while Conant also doubled, and Kayla Devault singled.
Game two loss
The second game didn't go as well for the home team, though it was a close one. The Lady Vikings rallied in their final at-bat but came up a run short, losing, 8-7.
"We were behind the entire game until scoring three runs in the seventh," said Fregoso. "It just wasn't enough."
The Vikings scored single runs in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth.
"It was frustrating; we scored in every inning but the first and third, but we were getting one run at a time," said Fregoso. "I think it might have been different if we hadn't given up six runs in the third. They were hitting and we made some errors. That was hard to come back from, mentally."
Carr was again aggressive on the basepaths, with three steals. Fregoso was also happy with the grittiness shown by catcher Saenz. The freshman graduated early from Barstow High School, and began classes at BCC this winter. She also made sure she started practicing with the softball squad.
"Saenz threw out a basestealer and was very aggressive behind the plate. She's been very clutch for us," Fregoso said. "She's done an excellent job, she's definitely a college athlete. I'm very proud of how she's done."
It's been a learning process so far for Fregoso and her young squad. The coach got a chance to do some recruiting in the off-season, and she also has a new staff helping her out. She's hoping Friday's win is something her players will build on.
"We have a whole new team this year, and I have a new staff who is passionate about the sport. They played here and want to see the program be successful," she said.
The coach was also happy with all the spectators that turned out on Friday. The first game was well attended, and the crowd grew for game two.
"The baseball team and some school administrators came out for the second game, it was a nice crowd," said Fregoso. "There were some Barstow people there, too. I hope they keep showing up.
"It was great to get a win in our first home game and I hope there are more to follow. I'm happy we came back in the second game, but we have to cut down on our errors. It's just basic mechanics, softball 101. But we've been making steady progress."
The Lady Vikings will play a doubleheader at L.A. Mission today, the start of a four-school road trip. They'll play their next home game March 13 against Mt. San Jacinto at 3 p.m.