Sanger West softball takes over NYL top spot

Led by pitcher Arriola and strong hitting, Hornets mercy rule Roosevelt in 6 innings to improve to 13-5-1 on the season

Sanger West High’s Reagan Chavez slides safely into second base with a double in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Hornets’ 11-1 victory over Roosevelt High in six innings on April 3.  The victory kept Sanger West (13-5-1) in a share of the North Yosemite League lead with McLane, both at 3-0. (Jon Earnest)
Sanger West High’s Reagan Chavez slides safely into second base with a double in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Hornets’ 11-1 victory over Roosevelt High in six innings on April 3. The victory kept Sanger West (13-5-1) in a share of the North Yosemite League lead with McLane, both at 3-0. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published April 4, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – Last season, the Sanger West High softball team was the first sport to capture a varsity team league championship. Wednesday afternoon, the Hornets took a big first step to become the first SW team to repeat as a league champ.

Scoring multiple runs in three of the final four innings, Sanger West combined the productive hitting attack with solid pitching from Mia Arriola to post an 11-1 six-inning mercy rule victory over Roosevelt High at SW varsity field. The convincing win enabled the Hornets (13-5-1, 3-0) to maintain a share of first place in the North Yosemite League with McLane (7-4, 3-0), a 16-4 winner over Sunnyside on April 3.

That deadlock will be broken in Fresno at 3 p.m. Friday when the Highlanders host the Hornets. Last season, Sanger West swept McLane on its way to a 13-1 NYL record and outright championship; with the only loss coming at Roosevelt.

The Hornets have established early success against the Rough Riders, collecting 10 runs off Roosevelt starter Iyanna Molano with a mixture of strong hitting and aggressive baserunning in the league matchup. The victory came nine days after a 12-7 Sanger West win at the Woodlake Tournament, and Wednesday’s strong showing impressed Hornets head coach Jose Morales.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game. Roosevelt is a really good team,” he said. “Today, the girls did a really good job of playing defense and (getting) timely hits. These are things you need to do to win games that are important. So I’m real proud of the girls for what they did today.”

Sanger West had a 2-0 lead after two innings but then began relentlessly breaking down Molano and the Roosevelt defense. In the third, sophomore Reagan Chavez delivered a run-scoring triple to left field to score pinch-runner Neko Carranza, then scored herself after forcing an errant throw on a rundown play. Sujey Ramirez then followed with a single to plate another run.

The Hornets added another run on a wild pitch in the fourth, and in the fifth Neveah Cruz doubled and later scored on Ramirez’s single to make it 7-0. Second baseman Sophia Torres, who earlier in the game made a nice running catch on a popup, then looped a run-scoring double to shallow right field.

Roosevelt finally touched Arriola for an unearned run in the top of the sixth with the aid of an errant throw on a potential double play, but Sanger West came right back in the bottom of the frame to salt away the victory with three runs. Chavez had a towering double to center in the inning while Cruz and Bella Estrada drove in runs with singles.

“We’re showing team chemistry, we have each other’s backs and are supporting each other like good teams do,” Morales said, stressing that the team is trying to build a championship tradition. “Being in the second year of (varsity) existence, we’re trying to develop that culture and that tradition that we want here at Sanger West.”

In addition to this week, Sanger West is playing Roosevelt and McLane in back-to-back showdowns during the second round of NYL play on April 26 and 30, respectively.

Jon Earnest
Reporter