Bertoglio leads the Gauchos to sting the Hornets

(MaryAnne Shults)

MaryAnne Shults

Saddleback College’s softball team claimed victory over Fullerton College 6-2 in a game last Friday that started slow but revved the engines at the bottom of the third inning. Earlier in the season, the Gaucho’s clobbered the Hornets 9-0 in a five-inning mercy-rule game.

Saddleback’s pitcher Chelsea Bertoglio led the Gauchos offense as she halted the Hornets from the mound three innings at bat, allowing three strikeouts and no hits. The highlight of the game was when she clobbered the ball in the fifth inning, adding three RBI’s to the game stats.

“I knew she was going to throw something in the strike zone because I knew she didn’t want to walk me and load the bases,” Bertoglio said humbly.

By the bottom of the third inning, the players were fighting fatigue set on by the unseasonably warm temperatures. But the heat was in the Gauchos favor.

After Christina Bolin walked, Shannon Wilkison plowed a single to center field. Bolin never slowed as she hit the bag at second and flew on to third base. Mandy Gutierrez singled to left field, gaining an RBI as Bolin scored the first run, breaking the double-zero score.

At the top of the fourth, the Hornets were primed. Starting at the top of the batting order, and a new strategy, Chelsea Rosario singled down the left field line. Second baseman Niki Hieda bunted to Saddleback’s Rachel Watson at third base, earning a sacrifice as Rosario advanced to second. The effort proved futile when Allison Ledford grounded to Watson who once again drilled the ball with effortless precision to Gutierrez.

The Gauchos were ready to rumble at the bottom of the fourth. Ashley Putkamer singled up the middle, then scurried to second when the Hornet’s catcher made a throwing error. Nicki Jacobucci gained an RBI when she hit a single to right field that allowed Putkamer to score.

At the top of the fifth, Fullerton’s Monica Ferguson was feeling lucky. After hitting a ground ball to third base, she was safe at first on a fielder’s choice when Saddleback’s Watson opted to take out Katie Arreguin at second. Taking advantage of a wild pitch, she dug in and headed for second. Erica Taft flied to left field, but Wilkison fumbled and dropped the ball, allowing Ferguson to score.

With the Gauchos up one, the Hornet’s pitcher Ledford appeared nervous. After Bolin and Wilkison walked, Bertoglio was up. Leading off the bases, like anxious fillies in the gate at a derby, Bolin and Wilkison were primed and ready when Bertoglio grabbed a solid pitch. The aluminum bat made a sharp crack and the ball sailed over the fence, bringing the score to 5-1.

“It’s a different pitcher from the last time we played them,” Wilkison said. “Even though we weren’t hitting, we’re still manufacturing runs.”

Coach Nick Trani concurred saying that hitting is the team’s strength, so he was glad to see runs, even it they were manufactured because they still count..

Fullerton scored another run in the sixth inning, but the Gaucho’s defense tightened up after Bolin errored on a throw at short stop bringing the score to 5-2.

A win became an almost-sure-thing for Saddleback when Putkamer walked and Jacobucci and Herrmann sacrificed, allowing her to press forward to third base. When Wilkison grounded to the pitcher, Putkamer put the pedal to the metal and stole home.

“The difference in this game is we manufactured some runs, by that I mean we had some singles, bunted them over and then we’d get a clutch single to score them instead of relying just on the long ball,” Trani said. “Although, we did have one home run today, we usually have two to three and score that way which is unusual for fast-pitch softball.”

The Gaucho’s improved to 13-8 overall and 10-4 in Orange Empire Conference play with the win.

Bertoglio leads the Gauchos to sting the Hornets

Saddleback College 6, Fullerton College, 2

Saddleback hosts OEC leader Riverside Community College today at 3:00 p.m. and Santa Ana College on Friday at 2 p.m.