PREP ROUNDUP: Orange Cove softball downs Reedley

Titans’ big win powered by Castillo’s hitting and pitching, Sanger softball opens season with victory at Mission Oak

Orange Cove’s Mia Castillo (10) is greeted by her teammates as she arrives at home plate after belting a two-run home run in the first inning of the Titans’ 14-5 non-league softball victory over Reedley High at RHS varsity field on March 1. The senior went 2-for-3 at the plate and drove in three runs while picking up her second pitching victory of the young season. (Jon Earnest)
Orange Cove’s Mia Castillo (10) is greeted by her teammates as she arrives at home plate after belting a two-run home run in the first inning of the Titans’ 14-5 non-league softball victory over Reedley High at RHS varsity field on March 1. The senior went 2-for-3 at the plate and drove in three runs while picking up her second pitching victory of the young season. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published March 4, 2024  • 
11:00 am

REEDLEY – The Orange Cove High Titans flexed their muscles against a good Division III Reedley High squad in a non-league matchup of Kings Canyon Unified School District softball programs.

The two-time reigning section Division IV champions collected 11 hits, with star senior Mia Castilo belting a home run and pitching a complete-game win in a 14-5 victory on a cool and damp night March 1 at Reedley High varsity field. The Pirates (3-2) had scored double figures in runs in their first four games.

Orange Cove (2-0 entering two games Monday in the Buchanan Pre-Season Big Schools tournament), jumped to a 10-3 lead after three innings. Senior infielder Star Elizondo also homered and drove in three runs while freshman infielder Miah Lopez collected three hits.

Castillo set the scene early, lacing a two-run shot over the fence in left-center off RHS starter Lauren Fonseca in the top of the first. The offense continued to break the game open with four-run outbursts in the second and third inning, more than enough for Castillo who was touched for nine hits and three earned runs but struck out 11 and walked just one.

Pirates senior shortstop Ashlee Chavez had two of the team’s five hits and added a stolen base while senior Ciara Zarate had a two-run double and Isabella Marin also doubled. But six OC batters reached base by error and the team tacked on four runs in the final two innings. 

Three days earlier, the Titans won their official season opener by a 7-4 score over visiting Mt. Whitney on Feb. 28 by building a 7-0 lead after three innings and hanging on for the victory. Castillo doubled and drove in a run along with working six-plus innings scattering three hits and striking out 13. Lopez went 2 for 3 with an RBI.

This week, Orange Cove opens the Buchanan tourney in Clovis with games against unbeaten Clovis North (3-0) and Monache (22) on March 4. The Titans then play Liberty-Madera Ranchos and Clovis West at 9 and 11 a.m., respectively, on Saturday, March 9 at Buchanan Softball.

Reedley, meanwhile, broke open a tight contest against Sanger West High on Feb. 27 at RHS with a nine-run sixth inning for a 12-2 walk-off victory. Candince Moreno-Hairabedian went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles, junior Kristyn was 2-for-3 with a double and RBI while freshman Macy Ruiz had a triple and three runs knocked in. Pitcher Sierra Hallum scattered six hits and struck out five for the pitching win.

Reedley takes on Justin Garza in a non-league home contest on March 5, then hosts the two-day Reedley Varsity Tournament on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9.

Sanger 7, Mission Prep 1

In Tulare on Feb. 27, Sanger High opened its season with a convincing 7-1 victory at Mission Oak High. The Apaches wiped out a 1-0 deficit with a run in the fourth and then took command with three runs in both the fifth and seventh innings.

Sophomore Emma Hernandez went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI, and also pickled up the pitching victory with a six-hit complete game featuring seven strikeouts. Senior Jayden Herrera homered and drove in two runs while also scoring twice. Senior first baseman Alyssa Martinez doubled while freshman Sam Guerra tripled and doubled.

Sanger travels to Kern County for a 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7 non-league game against Wasco High, then participates in the Reedley Varsity Tournament on March 8-9.

Dinuba plays at Clovis West in tourney

Dinuba High (1-4) travels to Clovis West High for a 3:30 p.m. tournament game at Clovis West High on Thursday, March 7, two days after a road game at Madera High. The Emperors dropped non-league games last week against Liberty-Madera Ranchos and Sierra Pacific.

Dinuba has two scheduled tournament games next week against Redwood High in Visalia, playing the Rangers on Tuesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 14.

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

Sanger High wins East County Invite, improves to 14-1

Sanger High’s boys volleyball team is off a torrid start this season, winning 14 of its first 15 matches including a 5-0 run and the championship of the East County Invitational in the Bay Area on March 2. The reigning Northern California Division II champion Apaches twice defeated Northgate High (6-2) of Santa Cruz, the second a 25-13, 25-19 sweep in the finals.

Sanger’s other victories in the tourney came in two-set sweeps against Dublin (1-4), Foothill of Pleasanton (4-2) and a 2-1 victory against De La Salle of Concord (7-5). The latter win marked Sanger’s second decision against the Spartans; the first came at the Saenger Slam on Feb. 23.

The Apaches travel to Clovis on March 4 for a showdown against unbeaten Clovis East (7-0), in a rematch of the Sanger Slam final won by the Timberwolves. Sanger then will travel to Buchanan (2-3)  for a 6:30 p.m. non-league match on Tuesday, March 12.

Jon Earnest
Reporter