LA CAÑADA — How big an impact the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy softball team will make within the competitive Mission League may very well center on how much the squad treats those contests as anything other than league play.
That’s because the Tologs continued their strong nonleague run with a 10-5 victory over visiting Maranatha on Thursday afternoon in a game in which Flintridge Sacred Heart scored in five of six innings and took advantage of six Minutemen errors.
“The girls played well today and if you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we’d be 8-2, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Kirk Nishiyama, whose team improved to 8-1 in nonleague games this season and 8-2 overall. “They’ve done what we’ve asked them to.”
On Thursday, Nishiyama’s crew gave itself a comfortable buffer in scoring three runs each in the second and third innings in taking a 6-0 lead.
The Tologs’ offensive output in the second inning began after two quick outs when junior Sophia Coffey reached against Minutemen sophomore pitcher Michelle Lieng (3-2) on a fielding error at shortstop.
A single and stolen base from Vanessa Ocon then preceded a two-run single to center from Kelly Fradet that brought home the first two runs of the contest.
Fradet eventually scored on a single from leadoff batter Cayley Frank to extend the Tologs’ advantage to 3-0.
“We’ve been very efficient with two outs,” Nishiyama said. “We’ve scored a lot of runs with two outs and have had some big hits. The girls really pick up their focus with two outs.”
Focus may have been an issue for Maranatha (6-5), which committed three errors in the third that led to three runs for the Tologs, who received a run-scoring single from Olivia Fitzpatrick in going up, 6-0.
“Our team really pulled through with clutch hitting and two-out rallies,” said Fitzpatrick, who batted two for three with one RBI and two runs. “We really worked hard and worked well.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart added a run in the fourth on a single from Rachel Majich and an error from the Minutemen and another run in the fifth thanks to a single from Fradet (two for four with two RBI) and a two-base outfield error.
Yet, even with that offense, the Tologs didn’t really ice the contest until the bottom of the sixth.
Flintridge Sacred Heart led, 8-3, and added two runs when Fitzpatrick (walk) and Lali Ortiz (fielder’s choice) both scored on a single from Ocon that included a play at the plate in which Ortiz just sneaked her foot past the block of Minutemen catcher Kymber Yamamoto.
“I think we worked really hard and really deserve this win,” said Ocon, who finished two for four with two RBI, one run and one stolen base.
Down, 10-3, Maranatha continued to fight as it had in previous innings and scratched out two runs in the seventh before Tologs pitcher Hannah Zika induced a game-ending groundout from Maria Caire.
Despite the loss, Minutemen Coach Scott Sommers wasn’t too disappointed, given his team was missing three players, including reigning Olympic League MVP Anjelica Amezquita.
“This gave us an opportunity to see some other girls in some other positions,” Sommers said. “It’s fine, we’re going to be fine, we just have to get through the next couple of weeks.”
As for Flintridge Sacred Heart, the Tologs return to Mission League action Tuesday at Alemany.
“We’ll see how we’ll do,” Nishiyama said. “Nonleague is one thing and Mission League is another.”
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.