Immanuel softball hangs on to edge Reedley

Eagles rally from behind with third inning grand slam, hold off three-run Pirates surge in seventh to capture Tri-County Conference cross division matchup

Immanuel High’s Ava Regier smiles while rounding second  base as teammate Addison Efird trails her after Efird launched a grand slam home run in the third inning of the Eagles’ 8-7 victory over Reedley High in a Tri-County Conference cross division softball game on April 23 at Immanuel Sports Complex. . (Jon Earnest)
Immanuel High’s Ava Regier smiles while rounding second base as teammate Addison Efird trails her after Efird launched a grand slam home run in the third inning of the Eagles’ 8-7 victory over Reedley High in a Tri-County Conference cross division softball game on April 23 at Immanuel Sports Complex. . (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published April 24, 2024  • 
11:00 am

REEDLEY – City rivals Reedley and Immanuel high schools delivered a playoff-atmosphere performance Tuesday night in their Tri-County Conference cross division matchup.

The visiting Pirates (13-10) struck first with a four-run third innings before the Eagles (13-6) responded with five runs including a grand slam home run by Addison Efird in the bottom half. After building the lead to 8-4, the hosts weathered a late three-run charge by Reedley and hung on for an 8-7 triumph at The Nest in the Immanuel Sports Complex.

Eagles coach Ryan Wood praised both teams’ effort and desire in the first of two cross-division matchups.

“I love the fact that we’re playing Reedley, and I hope they like the fact that they’re playing Immanuel in league now,” he said. “(The intensity) is what makes it so good and exciting. They’re a really good team, I’m glad we were in the game and able to come back.”

Reedley was almost able to seize the victory with two big innings. The Pirates jumped ahead in the third, powered by a two-run single from catcher Candince Moreno-Hairabedian (2-for-4) and then later closing within a run in the seventh on a two-run single from Ashlee Chavez and an RBI (runs batted in) hit from Moreno-Hairabedian. But Eagles pitcher Amanda Herrera induced a game-ending groundout to strand Chavez at third base.

Pirates coach David Camp credited his team’s grit with not getting down after giving up eight unanswered runs.

“Some teams would have just crumbled and maybe not put up the effort that we did,” he said. “I’m proud of our girls for fighting back and having the chance to go ahead. It just didn’t go our way at the end.”

With the Pirates ahead 4-0, Immanuel loaded the bases off RHS starter Sierra Hallum and got a RBI walk from Ava Regier. Sophomore first baseman Efird then launched a towering drive to left center that cleared the fence just past the reach of a keeping centerfielder Jamilah Taylor. The base-clearing shot put the Eagles ahead to stay.

Immanuel added a run in the fourth and two runs in the sixth and seemingly were in charge, But the undaunted Pirates put the heat on, getting three singles to load the bases with one out. Senior shortstop Chavez then sent a hit to left to cut the deficit to 8-6. Following a popout, Moreno-Hairabedian laced an RBI single as Chavez dove head-first into third on a tight play before a game-ending groundout left her at third base. 

Allison Wood, Leah Thomas and Natalia Delgadillo all had two hits for the Eagles while Ciarra Zarate and freshman Macy Ruiz added two hits apiece for Reedley.

Immanuel, which trails Kerman by one game in the TCC Sequoia Division, hosts Exeter on Wednesday in a 6:30 p.m. start. Reedley travels to Hanford to play Hanford West in a 6:30 p.m. TCC Kings Canyon Division game on Friday. The Pirates are tied for first with Kingsburg and Selma, all with 3-1 records.

In other softball games on Tuesday:

Mission Oak 8, Dinuba 5, 8 innings

At Dinuba, the Emperors (5-14, 1-4 West Yosemite) held a 5-1 lead after three innings before the visiting Hawks (15-6, 4-1) rallied to force extra innings and pull out the victory.

Sophomore third baseman Cambria Alderete had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with an RBI single in the first inning and a long two-run home run in the third. Samantha Ortega went 3-for-4 for the Emperors.

Sanger 5, Madera 4, 11 inning

At Madera, the Apaches (16-6, 4-1) scored a pair of runs in the top of the 11th innings to pull out a County Metro Athletic Conference road victory over the Coyotes.

Alyssa Martinez belted a pair of doubles and drove in two runs while Jayden Herrera went 2-for-5 with a solo home run. Audrey Ortiz also had two hits as Sanger finished with 10 hits. Amber Estrada pitched a complete game, scattering five hits and striking out nine.

Sanger West 11, Madera South 1

At Madera, the North Yosemite League-leading Hornets (19-5-1, 9-0) scored three runs in the third inning and six in the fourth to defeat the Stallions. Sanger West travels to Fresno on Thursday, April 25 for a 3 p.m. showdown at second place Roosevelt.

Jon Earnest
Reporter