Game time is set for 2 p.m.

Taft College will host Merced Thursday in the Central Valley Conference softball opener for both schools.

First pitch at the Al Baldock Cougar Sports Center is scheduled for 2 p.m.

The Cougars enter conference play with a 7-9 record after finishing a busy seven-game streak last week by winning two and losing five.
Merced will come in with a 5-8 record in non-conference games.

The Cougars began last week by losing a home doubleheader to Hartnell on Monday and wrapped it up with a twin loss in Aptos against Cabrillo College.  

In between, the Cougars defeated Gavilan in a single game on Tuesday and split a home doubleheader on Thursday with Allan Hancock.

Both games against Hancock were close with the Bulldogs winning the first one 3-2 and the Cougars taking the second 5-4.

Hancock pitchers kept the Cougars bats in check to offset 10 errors the Bulldogs made defensively on the day.

In the first game against Cabrillo, the Cougars managed just four hits while the Seahawks pounded out 12.

Taft led 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth when the Seahawks rallied for five runs.

The Cougars got one back in the top of the sixth but Cabrillo scored six times in the bottom of the inning to end the game on the eight-run mercy rule.

Cabrillo’s Sierra Clark went 3-for-4 and drove in six runs – all on homeruns in the fifth and sixth innings.

She also was the hitting star of the second game, going 2-for-4 and driving in three runs.

Clark also got the pitching win in the second game to run her record to 4-1.  She allowed one earned run on four hits with five strikeouts in four innings of work.

Statistics for the Cougars were unavailable.

College of the Sequoias looks like the favorite going into conference play after going 14-1 in non-league games.  Defending champion Fresno is 8-2, Reedley 7-6, Taft 7-9, Porterville 5-6, Merced 5-8 and West Hills 0-9-1.