Late rally falls shorts for Dinuba softball

Emperors drop West Yosemite League opener against Hanford by 5-3 score as game ends on reversed call in bottom of the seventh inning

Dinuba High’s Ashlee Orozco scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning of the  Emperors’ 5-3 loss to Hanford High on April 9 in the West Yosemite League opener for both teams. Dinuba had apparently scored a fourth run and moved the tying run to third base when umpires ruled a forceout at third base to end the game. (Jon Earnest)
Dinuba High’s Ashlee Orozco scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning of the Emperors’ 5-3 loss to Hanford High on April 9 in the West Yosemite League opener for both teams. Dinuba had apparently scored a fourth run and moved the tying run to third base when umpires ruled a forceout at third base to end the game. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published April 10, 2024  • 
11:00 am

DINUBA – The Dinuba High softball team’s hopes for a possible come-from-behind victory in their West Yosemite League opener Tuesday night were short-circuited by missed scoring opportunities and — finally — a reversed umpire call that ended the game.

The visiting Hanford High Bullpups built a 5-1 lead before yielding single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Dinuba (4-11) apparently scored a fourth run, but that was wiped off the board when a game-ending out was ruled at third base in a 5-3 decision at Dinuba High’s Bertha Tickey Field. It was the Emperors’ first game in 13 days after closing out the Fowler Easter Classic with a 2-2 record.

Coach Bryan Patterson, still unhappy with the game-ending umpire call, said his team failed to take advantage of scoring chances it had much of the game.

“We didn’t do ourselves many favors,” he said. “We hit a lot of fly balls. We’ve got to eliminate hitting fly balls. At the varsity level, the girls are going to track those balls down.”

The disputed finish came shortly after Ashlee Orozco scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. Cambria Alderete drew a walk to put runners at first and second with two outs. The next batter, Olivia Patterson, grounded a hard shot to third base that was fielded by Alissa Aguirre right near the bag. She hesitated after fielding, made a throw to first that eluded the fielder and allowed runner Bella Ortega to score and Alderete to reach third.

But after a brief conference between the two umpires, it was ruled that Aguirre fielded the ball while standing on the bag — resulting in a forceout at third base. Bryan Patterson vehemently argued the decision, but the call stood to end the game.

Before the wild finish, Dinuba missed on opportunities to recover from a three-run deficit in the first inning. Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, the Emps had runners at first and second with one out, but couldn’t score when Angelica Castellanos and Ortega followed with pop fly outs.

Dinuba also stranded runners in scoring position on two other occasions in the early innings, but did get an RBI single from Hope Diaz in the fourth inning and a run-scoring loop double from Neveah Garcia in the sixth inning.

Regular pitcher Leah Moreno saw her first action this season after being sidelined by an arm injury, settling down to work three innings after giving up three runs in the first. The senior also collected one of nine Dinuba hits. Garcia turned in a relatively solid four innings of relief work, but did yield run-scoring doubles to Maddie Benedict (who went 3-for-4 with three RBI) and Aguirre in the sixth inning.

Freshman Marissa Villarreal pitched a complete game for Hanford (8-10), striking out three and walking one. Benedict and Tagen Morales each had two hits for the Bullpups.

Dinuba next travels to Tulare for a 4:30 p.m. league matchup Thursday, April 11 against Tulare Western (9-6), which lost 11-8 to Mission Oak on Tuesday. The Emps then travel to the Central Coast for a noon non-league game at Sab Luis Obispo on Saturday, April 13.

“We’ve got a lot to build on, we’ve got a good core of girls,” Bryan Patterson said of his squad.

Jon Earnest
Reporter