SOUTH EL MONTE - While the Rowland and Schurr High School softball teams were looking for quick starts in Monday's pool play of the Arroyo Invitational at Whittier Narrows, it was the Raiders who produced just enough offense.
Despite out-hitting Schurr 14-6, Rowland (3-3) couldn't pull away from the gutty Spartans (1-4) until eventually claiming a 5-3 win.
"We didn't come up with the timely hits when we had runners in scoring position," Raiders coach Craig Snyder said. "But then again, we still managed to get enough offense. So, you have to be happy."
Rowland scored all the runs necessary in the first inning off Schurr starter Jaimee Rivera (1-4).
With one out in the first, the Spartans' freshman hurler had her 0-1 fastball crushed by Rowland's Tina Quon into the depths of the wide-open unfenced center field.
By the time center fielder Jessica Rivera threw the ball into the infield, Quon already had crossed home plate.
Quon's homer opened the door for the Raiders, who responded with singles from Laura Banuelos and Rae Anne Redmon, which put runners at the corners.
Rowland's next batter, senior Samantha Morales, then chopped a grounder to Schurr shortstop Lauren Herman, whose forceout attempt at the plate was unsuccessful.
The Raiders added two more runs in the inning on a wild pitch and an Erica Taft sacrifice fly that scored Morales.
Rowland's only other run came in the top of the fourth, when Quon singled in Taft with two outs.
The Raiders were shut out in five of seven innings despite registering at least one hit in every inning.
Jaimee Rivera closed out the fourth by striking out pinch hitter Julissa Villasenor. She then struck out Kim Kamachi with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh.
Rowland withstood a mid-game pitching change that took place when Banuelos, who started and pitched three scoreless innings, was replaced by Brittany Hogan in the fourth.
Banuelos left the game for personal reasons.
The change in pitchers fueled a Spartans three-run rally in the fourth that started with a Jaimee Rivera RBI single that scored Herman.
Jaimee Rivera and Coronado, Schurr's next hitter, both scored on a wacky double steal later in that inning that began with Rivera at third and Coronado at first.
On a 1-0 count to Schurr's Krystal Benoit, Coronado broke for second.
That's where the relay throw from home was cut off by Kamachi at second base.
While Coronado beat the relay home, the ball kicked away from Quon, which allowed Jaime Rivera to blow right through a stop sign from third base coach Amber Ackerman and score.
"That wasn't scripted," Ackerman said. "I put my hands up to stop. I guess I can't be too disappointed since she scored."
Overall, Ackerman wasn't upset with her team, which hung in until the end.
"We never quit. We kept on playing out there," Ackerman said. "This is the closest we've been in a ballgame in a while. Hopefully, we can build on it."
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