Taft easily defeats Mt. Whitney, hangs on to defeat Liberty

It has been a while since the Taft varsity softball team has been tested and faced with the possibility of losing their first game of the season.

The Lady Wildcats passed that test Saturday in one of their two victories at the Buchanan Easter Tournament.

“I thought the girls played really well,” said Taft coach Russell Emberson.

With the victories, Taft keeps their perfect record in tact at 25-0.

Before the Lady Wildcats got the early tournament scare, they kicked off the tournament by defeating Mt. Whitney 15-1.

After a quiet first, Taft roared to life in the second inning with four runs.

Olivia Ortleib and Haylee Tracy highlighted the outburst with a pair of back-to-back two run doubles. The Lady Wildcats did one better in the third inning when they put up five runs.

Taft loaded the bases before the first run came across when Halle Neher was hit by a pitch. After Ortleib hit a sacrifice fly, Tracy and Caitlyn Emberson each chipped in with two run doubles.

The Lady Wildcats completed their outburst in the fourth inning with six runs.

Neher with a two run double and Emberson with a two run home run led the charge during that inning.

Tracy was 2-for-3 in the game with five runs batted in. Emberson was 3-for-3 with three runs batted in while Josey Burke was 2-for-2.

Arizona Pilgrim threw four innings allowing an unearned run, two hits and a walk. Pilgrim also struck out six batters. Katie Evans pitched the final inning allowing two hits.

Taft faced something different in the second game when they came back in their final at bat to defeat Liberty of Bakersfield 2-1.

“It was great,” Emberson said of the game. “It’s good to get in a game like that. We battled the whole time. The girls never gave up.”

The only scoring either team got through a majority of the game was when Liberty scored their lone run in the top of the third inning.

Meanwhile, the Lady Wildcats were unable to get a hit until Corie Evans single in the fourth inning.

Emberson attempted to get something going with a leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth inning but it wasn’t until an inning later when Taft broke through.

The seventh inning rally started when Makenzie Thornsberry reached first base on an error by the Liberty pitcher.

Neher followed with a single to put runners on first and third while Ortleib tied the score on a double. Tracy won the game with a run scoring double.

All totaled, the Lady Wildcats had five hits in the game.

Pilgrim allowed a run on three hits over a seven inning stretch. Pilgrim hit a batter while striking out 13.

After a day off, Taft resumed tournament action Monday with games against Bullard and Dinuba.