Though it was expected to be a season in transition, the Vaqueros have encountered a few extra speed bumps along the way.
Glendale lost its seventh straight contest to dip to 14-22, 4-14 in the division. Canyons improved to 20-12, 16-3 and swept all three meetings against the Vaqueros this season.
Glendale first-year Coach Sal Pizzo found a positive following Thursday’s defeat, though.
“I liked the way we battled back in the last couple of innings and scoring the five runs,” Pizzo said. “I liked the way we were able to battle all the way through after it almost being a [nine-run] mercy rule.
“That’s been the character of our team all year long. We’ve had some rough times. They are staying with it, though.”
Canyons swept a home doubleheader against Glendale on March 25, posting 10-6 and 8-4 victories. On Thursday, the Cougars led throughout and finished with 13 hits.
Glendale didn’t get its first hit until Ari Rea singled with two outs in the fifth. The Vaqueros finally solved Canyons starting pitcher Milana Casillas in the sixth, as Cassandra Soto had a run-scoring single to cut the deficit to 8-1.
After the Cougars received a two-run inside-the-park home run from Casillas in the seventh, the Vaqueros mounted their comeback bid in their half of the inning with two outs. Leslie Zepeta walked with the bases loaded to make it 10-2 before Soto delivered a two-run single to pull the Vaqueros to within six, 10-4. Jessica Morena then followed with a run-scoring single to make it 10-5 before Casillas recorded the final out to give the Cougars their third victory in a row.
“It’s good that we were at least able to fight all the way until the final out,” said Soto, a sophomore pitcher/first baseman who finished with a pair of hits. “Win or lose, we didn’t give up.
“We have a young team and are still learning different things.”
Canyons took a 1-0 lead in the second on a sacrifice fly by Alija Ramirez.
The Cougars then made it 3-0 in the third. A run-scoring single to center by Karlee Bickford gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead. The throw to home plate skipped past the catcher to allow Canyons to tack on another run.
Canyons scored a pair of runs in the fifth to grab a 5-0 advantage. Bickford drove in a run to make it 4-0 and a sacrifice fly by Venise Elisara padded the lead to five runs.
A pair of errors helped stake Canyons to a 7-0 lead in the sixth. Bickford then had a run-scoring single to make it 8-0.
Canyons got four hits from Kori Cochran, three from Bickford and two from Kaitlyn Shreves.
“We made some errors in the sixth, but you have to find a way to rebound from them,” said Pizzo, whose team finished with five errors.
Rea finished with two hits for the Vaqueros, who got one stolen base apiece from Rebecca Hernandez and Jocelyn Zavala.
Glendale will close out is season at home Tuesday with a division doubleheader against Bakersfield. The first game will begin at 1 p.m. at the Glendale Sports Complex.
“It’s about being able to come out and play for pride,” said Pizzo, who got two runs from Vivian Topete. “We have some players who will be back next year in Rebecca, Ari and Jocelyn and we think they will continue to improve.
“If we can get a couple of wins [against Bakersfield], they will end the season on the right note and feel good about themselves.”
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .