Holtville High School sophomore Kamryn Walker slides into third base ahead of the tag of Calexico High’s Shanelle Gascon during their season-opening game on Tuesday, March 23, at Emerson Field in Calexico. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO
CALEXICO — One play can change momentum in any sport, and it was a defensive play that keyed the Holtville High softball team’s late rally to down Calexico, 12-10, in the nonleague, season-opener for both schools at Emerson Field here Tuesday, March 23.
Leading 7-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning with two outs and runners in scoring position, Calexico was poised to add more runs when Vikings’ sophomore Demi Johnston made a diving stop at third base and threw to first to record the final out and end the scoring threat.
That play woke up the Holtville dugout and seemed to ignite the Vikings’ stagnant offense.
“That was huge for us. That was the momentum switch because they would have scored one or two more runs that inning for sure,” said Melissa Snyder, Holtville’s head coach. “And right after that is when we started scoring, putting the ball in play, and realizing we could come back and win.”
The Vikings scored five runs in the sixth inning to draw within 7-6, but the Bulldogs added three runs in the bottom of the sixth to get some breathing room at 10-6, heading to the final frame.
Holtville had a big final inning, scoring six runs and taking advantage of every opportunity.
“We had some walks and some hit batters to get on base, and we were able to capitalize on their mistakes,” Snyder said.
Vikings’ freshman Brooke Strahm led the offense with two hits, an RBI, and a run scored. Johnston finished with a hit, a walk, a hit-by-pitch, a stolen base, and scored three runs. Sophomore Kamryn Walker also had a hit, RBI, walk, and two stolen bases to lead Holtville.
Senior Zamara Gutierrez started the game for the Vikings, but got relief help from sophomore Kalli Strahm, who picked up the win.
“It was a crazy way to start a season,” Snyder said. “The heart and fight and ability to come back is all stuff we can’t teach them. But it’s what they need to have all season to be successful.”
BLYTHE — The Vikings traveled to take on Palo Verde High here Wednesday, March 24, and blew out the Yellowjackets, 16-1, in a nonleague contest.
Gutierrez got the win for Holtville, striking out seven and allowing just one run over four innings.
Strahm and Walker had three hits apiece to lead the Vikings’ offense, with both scoring four runs and Walker finishing with four RBI. Johnston, Kaitlyn Havens, and Sofie Irungaray all had two hits each for Holtville.