By GERARDO RECINOS
The last time the Lady Bulldog softball team was beaten at Alhambra was May 29, 2013.
Let that sink in.
Prior to the Bulldogs’ season opening defeat to Heritage-Brentwood on Tuesday afternoon, the Bulldogs last loss on home turf came before any of the current players had even reached high school.
In fact the 9-3 loss on March 28 is only the seventh time an Alhambra softball team has lost at home in coach Paul Buccellato’s now eight-season tenure with the team.
It was shocking to see the Bulldogs fall in such a dominant fashion, but in truth the game serves as a sign to the tough road this season will present for Alhambra’s girls.
Heritage is hardly a slouch. The Patriot girls were in the Division I North Coast Section semi-finals last season. So its expected that they would return. Only now the Bulldogs will throw their hat into the ring of talented Division I teams vying for the crown at the highest level.
All that despite the fact that Heritage boasts more than double the enrollment that Heritage does.
But the Bulldogs have long since trounced the notion that a small school can’t make waves with bigger teams. However so far this year it may take some time to get acclimated.
For one the Bulldogs are only carrying one pitcher with prior varsity experience, unlike in past years, when there has always been a senior leading the way as the number one, with a junior backing them up.
Starter Breanna Edwards did see significant time on the mound in 2016, and even won a gutsy 5-3 contest over eventual Division II runner up Newark Memorial in the Reed Tournament in Nevada. However most of her work came in blow out wins.
She had shaky command against Heritage, and an early home run off the bat of sophomore Xiara Diaz. The Easter Kentucky committee’s home run glanced off the top of the left field wall, popped directly into the air, but landed on the other side of the fence.
It didn’t get much better for Edwards, who gutsily pitched through the command problems, but allowed tow more runs in the top of the second inning. In her 3 1/3 inning start, Edwards threw just as many balls as she did strikes.
Edwards was relieved by sophomore Lauren King, who had only pitched two varsity innings prior to her appearance against the Patriots. King didn’t struggle with command, but the Patriots smelled blood.
The sophomore was tagged with five runs, four of which came in her first 2/3 inning of work.
Before she came back out for her second inning, senior Maci Shepherd did well to get her at least one run of support by singling in Bryanna Waters, who ran for Regan Silva. The senior first baseman, Silva, was one of the lone bright spots on the day, going 2-for-4 .
King only allowed one more run before being lifted for Edwards, who re-entered the game for the final two innings. That came after the Bulldogs drove in a pair of runs. The first came on a deep fly ball to the warning track off the bat of Bri Perez that was dropped by the center fielder. The second came on a hard single to right field by Karlee Sparacino that drove Perez in.
Sparacino was withdrawn from the game with an apparent injury, however the extent of it is unknown, and likely to be precautionary.
Perhaps in a tighter contest she would have continued. But with the way senior Katherine Hall was pitching for the Patriots, it couldn’t have made a difference. Hall went the distance only allowing a single earned run in the defeat, with it breaking the four year streak between home losses.