Softball: Is 18-1 Exeter ready for battle with Selma?
Dominating through non-league the Monarchs now get ready to begin CSL play against powerhouse Selma
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – In recent years the Monarchs, along with every other Central Sequoia League team, have had to settle on one stubborn fact: in order to have a shot at the league title they had to beat the Selma Bears. Winning the last three CSL titles and going 29-1 in league play during that stretch has made them formidable.
The strongest contender to knock Selma off their pedestal, and assert themselves at the top seems to be Exeter (18-1). The Monarchs have not won a CSL title since 2012, and ironically enough the team they finished one game ahead of that year was Selma.
This season so far the Monarchs have put together a decent body of work. They’ve captured two tournament titles, and outscored their opponents 206-28. And while at a glance that number is striking, in reality Exeter has only beaten five teams with winning records so far.
Exeter entered their CSL home opener last night against the Selma Bears (3-4), final occurred after press time, riding a 13-game winning streak. The most recent win was 7-1 over the Reedley Pirates (10-5-1) last Thursday.
“Reedley is always a strong team and we were able to get some good hits on them,” Exeter head coach Karen Zeibak said. “I hope we can give Selma a good game and stay competitive with them.”
Through the first three and a half innings Exeter held a one run lead, 2-1 over Reedley. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth when Exeter broke the game open.
A leadoff walk allowed Exeter to put pressure on Reedley’s pitcher with aggressive base running. On the first pitch to Julieanna Rocha at the plate Kate Coulter stole second base. Now in scoring position Rocha moved her over to third with a double to left field.
Both Rocha and Coulter ended up scoring on a couple mistakes by the Reedley pitcher. An error during a routine ground ball back to the pitcher allowed Rocha to score. Then a wild pitch gave the green light for Coulter to make it 4-1 Exeter.
Two batters later, of which both resulted in outs, Corinne Acosta stepped up to the plate. Before long she blasted a pitch to left center field for a triple. Belk, who had worked over to third, scored on the long shot to make it 5-1. Acosta finished the game going 2-3, scored a run and brought in two RBIs.
If the Monarchs want any shot at winning the CSL Acosta’s bat has to keep making contact. This season she is batting .723 with 10 extra base hits, including five triples and two home runs. She has scored 47 runs and brought in 29 RBIs as well.
“She is someone who is able to score each time she gets on base,” Zeibak said. “I am really happy for her because she is someone who is working hard every day.”
On the mound for the Monarchs was Brooklyn Blackmon. It was her 11 start and has made sixteenth game appearance on the mound so far this season. Currently Blackmon is 11-1, has a 0.62 ERA with 64 strike outs. This outing reassured those numbers.
In seven innings Blackmon struck out six batters and walked two. The only run she gave up in the top of the second was earned. Through the first couple innings she controlled the strike zone getting four of those punch outs. Her pitch selection also made it easy for her infield to make plays. Defensively they had 21 put outs.
Sharing the time on the mound with Blackmon is another young pitcher in Kayla Medrano. With only nine starts entering league she is currently 7-0. Even with significantly less starts her talent has shown though. In punch outs she has 41 with 14 walks.
“It is so nice to have Kayla because I know I can put her in any situation and she would do a great job,” Zeibak said.
A decision has yet been made which one will see more playing time in league and possible the post season.