Our Lady Grizzles softball team was in a heated battle for the Academy League Championship on May 9, 2017. First, let’s look back at the road that they had to overcome to get there. In the Academy League there are five teams, all of which play each other twice and compete for the best record at the end of the season. Your Lady Grizzles were off to a hot start in league with a 3-0 record. Their biggest battle was yet to take place against their rivals from Oxford Academy. Now, all away games are nerve-racking, but this was their first away game for league so added pressure was definitely in play.
The Lady Grizzles fell behind early and were looking to overcome the 1-0 lead that the Patriots from Oxford Academy had over them. With some battles at the plate, the Lady Grizzles just could not find a way to get a run in and the score stayed with Oxford Academy still up by 1 run. The Lady Grizzles looked to their ace pitcher, Sophomore Raylene Roybal, to hold Oxford to only a 1 run lead up until the 7th inning. The Lady Grizzles were down to their last three outs as they looked to try and send the game into extra innings or to grab a lead run. With their backs against the wall, the Lady Grizzles came out with back-to-back hits to tie the game and send it into extra innings. In the top of the 8th inning, with a lead off runner on base, the Lady Grizzles were looking to take the lead. Who better to have next at bat than their 4 year veteran and senior, Bella Veloz, to push the Grizzlies ahead. She sent a shot into center field, which hit off the wall and she was able to score, putting the Lady Grizzlies ahead by one run.
The Lady Grizzles were looking to hold the lead in the bottom of the 8th inning. With unfortunate events, Oxford Academy battled and were able to get two runs in and a walk-off fashion game winner. This loss stunned our Grizzles, but it wasn’t over just yet, as they had the second part of the league season right around the corner. The next three games for the Grizzles were on the road as they looked to keep their league championship hopes alive. During this stretch, the Lady Grizzlies pitcher, Raylene Roybal, threw two no hitter games to send the team, with a 6-1 record, back to face Oxford Academy and who also held a 6-1 record to face off in another big showdown, who some might have called “the game of the season”. The Lady Grizzlies hopes were high to take it all.
On May 9, 2017, senior night, the Grizzles were looking to host Oxford Academy to battle for the rights to be called League Champs! As expected, this game was a nail bitter. Unlike the last time these two met, the Grizzles struck first and put up a 1 run lead in the bottom of the 1st inning. The next two innings became a pitching duel. Oxford Academy mixed it up and threw two different pitchers, who both held our ladies to that 1 run lead at the top of the 4th inning. Oxford capitalized on some timely hitting to tie the game up 1-1. In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Grizzles were looking to take the lead with bases loaded and no outs. Unfortunately, the Grizzles could not capitalize on that and left runners on base to send this tied game into the 5th inning. With a 1,2,3 strike out inning for Raylene Roybal, the Lady Grizzles gained some momentum to put some runs on the board.
The Calvary Chapel Grizzles matched up some big hits which led to runners on first, second and third base with the freshman who had been clutch all season long, Sarah Veloz! Bella Veloz, older sister of freshman Sarah Veloz, was standing on first base cheering on her baby sister to pull through with a big hit. The count was 2 balls and 2 strikes when Sarah Veloz swung with so much power she hit a rocket into the gap of right center field clearing the bags and putting the lady grizzles ahead 4-1. With awesome defense from our girls, they managed to hold Oxford Academy in the top of the 6th inning at 5-1. In the the bottom of the 6th inning, next up to the plate was senior, Grace Gerl.
Grace Gerl, the starting second baseman for the Lady Grizzles, who is known for her electrifying speed, managed to beat out a throw from shortstop, which put our girls in a great spot. Our next batter, senior Kayla Vukovich, who has been a big clutch hitter throughout the season, hit a rocket right to the shortstop and turned into our lead runner getting out at second base. Next to bat was, Raylene Roybal, who was looking to cement this win with more runs. With the count being 1 ball and 2 strikes, Raylene Roybal hit a monster shot to dead center for a home run that put the Lady Grizzles up 9-1. With only 3 more outs to go in the game, the Lady Grizzles could almost taste the league championship.
The Lady Grizzlies “one-two punch”, catcher Alma Campos and pitcher Raylene Roybal, were locked in and were ready to hand out these last 3 outs. The signs given to Raylene Roybal from head coach, Al Rodriguez, managed to strike out the last two batters and send the Lady Grizzles home with another league championship! This would be their second league championship making them back to back Academy League Champions! Under head coach Al Rodriguez and his staff, the Lady Grizzles managed to pull it off and end their season with a 10-10 overall record and a 7-1 league record, sending them into playoffs. We want wish the Lady Grizzles and the coaching staff good luck as they look to continue their winning season into the postseason. Brackets will be released by 12:00pm on Monday May15th and can be viewed on CIFSS.org.
By: Adrian Rodriguez