Cougars sweep Porterville 7-0, 11-4 at home

Freshman Jessica Neher pitched a two-hit shutout and struck out 13 batters Tuesday to help guide Taft College to a doubleheader sweep over visiting Porterville College.

Neher, who prepped at Taft High, allowed back-to-back singles with one out in the second inning and walked two in the third before retiring the final 13 batters she faced.

At one point she struck out six batters in a row.

“Jessica threw the ball extremely well,” said head coach Stefanie Walsh.  “She was pretty much in a zone.  That was a very impressive performance.”

Stephanie Keith slugged a three-run homer to highlight a 10-hit attack that backed up Neher in the Cougars 7-0 opening game win.

TC won the second game 11-4 to improve to 4-4 in the Central Valley Conference and 9-16 overall.

Alex Holland pitched the win and smacked her fourth homer of the season – a two-run shot to right center in the fourth inning. 

She leads the team with a .457 batting average (third best in the CVC), 32 hits (tied for third) and 24 runs batted in (third best).  Her four homers ties her for second.
As designated hitter, she also had a hit in the first game.  She walked four times on the day – three intentionally.

In the circle, Holland scattered 10 hits, struck out seven and walked five.  Only one of Porterville’s four runs was earned.

Leadoff hitter Chelsea Eli-Kido had a big day at the plate.  She had a double and five singles in eight at-bats and scored four runs.

Third baseman Brooklyn Amador socked a solo homer, double and single to drive in three runs.  She’s hitting .406 with eight doubles, three triples and two homers for 15 RBIs.

Shortstop Ashley McKeown had a solo homer and two singles, first baseman Peyton Buen two doubles and a single and scored three times, and Andrea Boulshet, Mari Hernandez and Neher each singled.

The Cougar defense also impressed the coach.

“Our defense did a very good job supporting our pitchers,” Walsh said.  “We hit the ball very well.  I think it was the first time in a doubleheader that we really put together all phases of the game. It was a great, smooth day.”

She hopes that will carry over into the weekend when the Cougars get in three non-conference games against quality teams – all of them at Bakersfield College.  TC will play state No. 12 BC (15-6) at 10 a.m. Saturday and on Sunday Santa Barbara City College (12-10) at 10 a.m. and No. 13 Riverside City College (14-7) at noon. 

Next Tuesday the Cougars host Merced in a doubleheader at 2 and 4.