Strikeout artist: Del Mar softball ace Ks 16 as Dons remain undefeated

SAN JOSE  –  Natalie Dixon’s offspeed pitches baffled Gunderson batters as the junior Del Mar softball pitcher rang up a season-high 16 strikeouts on Wednesday afternoon.

The Dons won 11-4 and extended their perfect start to 7-0. 

Facing a Blossom Valley Athletic League West Valley Division opponent that entered the game averaging 20 runs-per-game, Dixon got 11 of her strikeouts via a swing-and-miss third strike.

And after every pitch, strikeout or not, her defense serenaded and strengthened Dixon with cheers.

“They’re so supportive, and always talking, cheering and encouraging me,” Dixon said. “It helps me.”

A huge second inning gave the Dons the cushion it needed, scoring six runs as each player in the batting order came up to the plate. 

Del Mar didn’t need a hit to score its first run. 

Kaida Carson started the inning by getting hit by a pitch, and Maren Woodfill drew a walk, Zulema Hernandez de Orta was hit by another pitch to load the bases, and then Angelina Lopez earned another walk to drive in a run.

Singles by Sienna Denson and cleanup hitter Suzette Hernandez de Orta helped clear the bases to give Del Mar a lead it would not relinquish. 

“We had the one inning that got away from us,” Gunderson coach Theautry Snyder said. “But you know, a loss is a lesson. In one inning, we messed up on a bunt. In the next inning, we double them up.”

Gunderson didn’t quit despite facing a huge deficit. Left fielder Judah Tillman scored the Grizzlies’ first run when leadoff hitter Jaelyn Vejar slapped a single into right field. Vejar then stole second and eventually came home on two wild pitches. 

Other Gunderson (5-2) bright spots included Melanie Larlos and Alanna Martinez Poklong, who combined for three hits. Freshman shortstop Desirae Regalado also drew cheers from the home fans for her solid glovework. 

“We’ll play them again later on in the season, and I think that time, we’ll do a lot better than we did today,” Poklong said. 

Del Mar remained in control throughout, scoring a run apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning before tallying two more runs in the top of the seventh. Gunderson put up two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. 

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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