By GERARDO RECINOS
It’s a new world in the Diablo Athletic League for the Alhambra Bulldogs softball team. Gone are the days of 20-0 victories from the DFAL days.
Now the Bulldogs see tough competition every week. And when it comes to the DAL, after the Bulldogs, the Minutemen from Concord High have a winning pedigree as well.
The Bulldogs beat the 2010, 2012 and 2013 NCS Division II champion Minutemen 8-5 on their home turf on a blustery Thursday afternoon. And unlike league contests of the past, this one wasn’t a laugher.
Alhambra did pound out 14 hits, with all but one starter reaching base, but the Minutemen’s lineup wasn’t full of slouches.
Concord banged out nine hits of their own off of Alhambra starter Brianna Edwards, but any time they did, the Bulldog bats backed up their pitcher with timely hitting.
It came from all throughout the lineup on April 27. Predictably, senior Kimiko Zapanta served as the spark plug for the Bulldogs. But she was also one of six Alhambra hitters to drive in a run on the afternoon.
She scored the first of the eight runs on Thursday after lining a triple into the alley way in center field. She was driven in by Bri Perez, who had an extra base hit of her own to drive in the run.
However Concord took their first and only lead soon thereafter when freshman Lexi San Filippo drove in a pair of runs on a booming double to right field.
But as previously mentioned, it didn’t seem to faze the Bulldogs.
They drove in three runs immediately after going down to the Minutemen only a half inning later. Maci Shepherd singled in a run, and then the Bulldogs used some aggressive base running to grab and third.
Again Concord responded. But every time they mounted a small comeback, the line up would turn over for the Bulldogs, and Alhambra would answer right back. There was only one lead chance in the contest, but once it did change, it stayed that way.
Edwards only had two innings where she retired all three hitters in a row, but they came at the right time. The first came in the third inning, where she got her team back to the plate after they themselves had been retired in order.They helped her out by scoring two more runs.
The second was in the bottom of the sixth inning, when she stopped the Minutemen from mounting a late come back when they got back to the top of the order.
And for that she was rewarded with stellar defense in the seventh to hold Concord to a one-out double and nothing more.
With the big win, the Bulldogs set themselves up in prime position to take control of the league. But that’s not the only caveat to the win.
Their hitting outburst landed them in the top 100 teams in the nation according to MaxPreps.com, who has Alhambra ranked at 86th in the nation as of Tribune deadline.
That could all change drastically, and for the better, in the space of a week, with a big showdown with Sheldon-Sacramento looming. The Huskies are currently ranked 18th in the nation by MaxPreps, and beat down the Heritage Patriots team that stomped the Bulldogs in the season opener, 7-1.
Both teams will enter with only two losses on the season, but one will leave with a third.
But for now the Bulldogs will be content with their big lead at the top of the league, and a road win against one of the better team’s in the DAL.
*Results current as of May 1, 2017.