February 15, 2008

Castagno's Return Not Enough for Broncos

Feb. 15, 2008

Box Score

Stanford, Calif. -- The Santa Clara softball team fell to 0-6 Friday morning after a 7-3 loss to Pacific at the Stanford Invitational. Senior starting pitcher Jerrica Castagno was back in action and took the loss after throwing a complete game.

Castagno, who battled the flu and a rib injury last week, looked strong in her first outing of the year for much of the game. She struck out the first batter she faced this year and seemed to be on cruise control to start out. Castagno got into trouble in the third, with bases loaded and one out, but got out of it with just one unearned run tying the game. The fourth inning came and went without consequence, but in the fifth the wheels came off.

After retiring the first two batters, Castagno gave up a single. Pacific pinch ran pitcher Heidi Helberg who promptly stole second. Then Kellee Wilson popped up out of play to seemingly end the inning but the ball was dropped by freshman Amanda Edmonson. After that, Wilson doubled to left, scoring Helberg, followed by another double and a score, before Mandy Hickman launched a two-run homerun to bring the score to 5-1. All five runs to that point where unearned.

That proved to be enough for Pacific, who added two more insurance runs in the seventh, as the Broncos tried to mount a final inning comeback, but fell short.

The Broncos momentarily took the lead in the second inning after Helberg walked three batters, Emily Batt singled down the left field line to score Noelani Ho'opi'i. That was the last hit Santa Clara managed until the last inning when Batt got her second hit of the day, advancing Jenna Fong, who reached on a walk, to second. Then the no. 9 batter Meghan Chavez drove her home with a double to left field. Jackie Morales came in to pinch hit and reached on an error by the third baseman, scoring Batt to bring the score to 7-3. That's how it would stay after Edmonson ended the game with a groundout.

"We had a crucial drop and we haven't learned to keep our composure after things like that," said head coach Lisa Mize, speaking of the dropped foul ball in the fifth that allowed the inning to continue and break the game open. "We also need to minimize our errors and get more production offensively. Three hits isn't enough; not this early in the season."

All three hits came from the 8 and 9 spot in the order, but Mize says that in order to win game they need production from the top, middle, and bottom of the lineup.

The return of Castagno was a bright spot for the team in the loss, as her presence will help the Broncos out a lot. "There was a noticeable improvement," said Mize. "We were getting ahead of batters and she was keeping them off balance."

Santa Clara will finish off the first day of the Stanford Invitational today at 2 p.m. where they will meet the host, No. 14 Stanford. Morales will make her third start of the season.