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Alhambra girls shocked in tournament opener revenge

Senior Kimiko Zapanta had two hits in the Bulldogs 9-1 loss to Foothill-Pleasanton in the opening game of the Livermore Stampede Tournament on April 6, 2017. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
Senior Kimiko Zapanta had two hits in the Bulldogs 9-1 loss to Foothill-Pleasanton in the opening game of the Livermore Stampede Tournament on April 6, 2017. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)

It was exactly 364 days prior to the last time the Bulldogs faced Foothill that they beat the Pleasanton side in the opener of the Livermore Stampede Tournament.

Nearly a year later, the revamped Falcons took down the Lady Bulldog softball team in a way they are not accustomed to being beaten. The 9-1 loss at the hands of Foothill (ranked 121st in the nation by MaxPreps.com) on April 6 was dominant in every aspect.

Last year’s Falcons hung with the Bulldogs, but were beaten by the home run ball. This year, the Bulldogs could hardly get the bat on the ball.

Freshman standout Nicole May twirled a masterpiece against a potent Alhambra lineup.

The future Oklahoma Sooner, who FloSoftball ranked as the ninth best player in the class of 2020, pounded the strike zone and struck out 13 in her complete game performance.

May threw a first-pitch strike to 19 of the 28 hitters she faced, and only allowed a single free pass, stranding the six Bulldogs who reached base.

Meanwhile, in her corner, the Falcon lineup got a bit of revenge on the Bulldogs for handing them their first loss of the season in 2016.

Junior Brianna Edwards was shaky on the mound in the first two innings, but escaped unharmed. However as the game progressed, the Falcon bats were ready to strike. The started taking aggressive swings early in the count, and it paid off.

May helped herself out by tripling to leadoff the third inning, while both sophomore Ellen Ebbers and junior Lauren Hermes jumped on the first pitch they saw to drive in a run each.

Alhambra second baseman Karlee Sparacino had a pair of hits and the lone RBI in the loss. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune).
Alhambra second baseman Karlee Sparacino had a pair of hits and the lone RBI in the loss. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune).

The scoreline in the end flattered the Falcons, but truth be told the Bulldogs had no answer for the freshman phenom in the circle. Only seniors Karlee Sparacino and Kimiko Zapanta had multiple hits on the afternoon. And Sparacino’s bloop single into centerfield produced an RBI.

But by then the game was already in the bottom of the sixth inning. Time was running out.

But a single swing could still win the ball game, and as untouchable as Foothill’s pitcher was, her first pitch in the seventh would be her 100th of the start.

If the Bulldogs were going to get her, it would be in the final frame.

But the Falcons added some insurance.

Foothill tacked on five runs in their half of the seventh inning, however two of the runs that scored with freshman Sophia Aguilar in the circle came on an error.

So by the time May took her place in the circle, her 28-pitch inning which would have come at some duress had her team not scored five runs, was a breeze.

Pinch hitters Lili Belton and Hannah Rubalcava reached on a walk and single respectively in their first action of the tournament, but May bore down.

She struck out Kaylee Pond, Jessica Nunes and Zapanta in order to shutdown the Bulldogs’ chances to make some noise in the game, and possibly in the championship flight of the tournament.

In 2015 the Bulldogs’ loss to Heritage in the championship flight stopped them from winning the tournament title. In 2016, the tournament was called due to rain, and the Bulldogs’ 3-0 start in pool play was a wasted effort.

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