A doubleheader split here Tuesday left Taft College tied for second place in the Central Valley Conference softball standings.
Jessica Neher shut out Merced 2-0 in the first game, but the Blue Devils came back to edge the Cougars 4-3 in the second.
The split, however, kept the Cougars in a tie for second place with Reedley – both teams at 7-4.
Neher struck out six and walked two while scattering five hits in blanking the Blue Devils.
She took the loss in the second game after relieving Peyton Buen in the fourth inning.
Merced got the winning run with two out in the bottom of the seventh.
“Jessie made a good pitch on the inside part of the plate that the batter blooped just over the 5-6 hole,” said head coach Stefanie Walsh.
“She made a really good pitch you wouldn’t think would result in a hit, but sometimes that’s just the way it happens.”
Many of Merced’s hits “were soft, bloopy hits that just fell in.”
Walsh said mistakes also hurt her team’s chances of sweeping the twin bill.
The Cougars got off to a shaky start, giving up three unearned runs in the first inning.
“We also made a couple of base-running mistakes that we shouldn’t have,” Walsh said. “One was due to aggressiveness and the other the failure to slide on a bunt play.”
Chelsea Eli-Kido and Brooklyn Amador both had four hits on the day. Amador had a pair of doubles.
Ashley McKeown had a double and single, a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base.
Buen smacked two triples in the first game.
Venise Elisara had two hits while Kelina Nakai and Tuiai Elisara each had a single.
The Cougars had 17 hits on the day.
The twin bill opened the second half of conference play.
Last Sunday, the Cougars split a non-conference doubleheader in Saratoga (near San Jose) against West Valley College, ranked No. 3 in northern California and No. 6 in the state.
TC won the first game 9-7 in eight innings as each team belted three homers. Venise Elisara, Nakai and Amador all homered for the Cougars.
West Valley won the second game 12-6, taking advantage of five Cougar errors.
Keith had five hits on the day, Amador four and Venise Elisara three.
Neher got the win in the first game, giving up four earned runs, striking out six and walking one.
Page 2 of 2 -