SALINAS VALLEY — The last time King City and Gonzales softball teams played, the Lady Mustangs scored four runs in the final inning to cap off the comeback, but this time Spartans pitcher Alex Guerrero pitched her way to a 2-1 victory.
Entering the week, the Mustangs were in first place in the Cypress Division, while the Lady Spartans had won four of their last five games. Gonzales needed a win over King City to keep their hopes of winning the league title alive.
“There’s always a lot of motivation playing these girls,” said Spartans player Celeste Camarena. “We have been on a losing streak against them, so we had to come out today and play hard.”
Coming into the game, both Gonzales and King City entered on three-game winning streaks. The Lady Mustangs were 5-0 in the Cypress and were looking to eliminate the Spartans from title contention with a loss that would give them their third in the division.
With Gonzales playing an elimination game, Guerrero and catcher Josselyn Hernandez had to figure out how to slow down a team who averaged over 10 winning streaks. The Spartans, however, had some insight into the King City girls because they play on the same travel ball team.
“We know a lot of these girls from travel ball,” Guerrero said. “So we knew their weaknesses and strengths.”
From the first batter, Guerrero and Hernandez’s plan worked to perfection as they were able to limit King City to only one run. Guerrero didn’t allow a hit through four innings.
“Our plan was to jam them up,” Hernandez said. “We tried to keep them guessing and keep them off balance.”
With Guerrero dealing, so was King City pitcher Malaya Carrillo, who only gave up one earned run. Going into the third, the Lady Spartans would get to Carrillo when the team leader in hits — Camarena — broke the tie to give Gonzales the lead.
In every next inning, Hernandez would drive in Gonzales’ second run, which turned out to be enough for Guerrero to get the win for the Spartans.
But the Lady Mustangs wouldn’t go down without a fight. King City’s Lisa Villanueva cut the Spartans’ lead to one with her team-leading 37 RBIs.
Going into the final inning, Guerrero ended the game by striking out the side, giving her 13 strikeouts on the day. She only allowed three hits with 13 strikeouts and gave up only one run.
“Overall, Alex is a great pitcher,” Hernandez said. “Once she is in her zone, it’s hard for any team to hit her.”
During the Spartans’ four-game winning streak, Guerrero has pitched 23 innings with 39 strikeouts and has only given up three runs.
Next, Gonzales played Trinity Christian on Monday and King City competed against Alisal on April 14, the results of which were not available as of press deadlines.