Taft defeats Bullard and Clovis lose to Dinuba and Clovis West

This time last year, the Taft varsity softball team only won one game at the Buchanan Tournament. The Lady Wildcats had a better outcome this year by finishing with a tournament record of 4-2 after splitting their final four games Monday and Tuesday.

“I think they had a great tournament,” said Taft coach Russell Emberson.

With the tournament record, the Lady Wildcats head into the second half of the league season with an overall record of 27-2.

After taking a day to rest last Sunday, Taft resumed their winning ways Monday with an 11-3 victory over Bullard.

Taft took the early lead by scoring two runs in the first inning on Olivia Ortleib’s single and Caitlyn Emberson’s two run home. Bullard bounced back to tie the score in the third on a pair of singles and two errors.

The Lady Wildcats put the game away in the fourth with nine runs. Emberson led the charge with a two run double while Makenzie Thornsberry, Arizona Pilgrim, Ortleib, Tracy and Katie Evans each had run scoring singles.

Bullard got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fourth inning with two singles, a flyout and a wild pitch.

Emberson was 2-for-3 with four runs batted in along with a double and homerun. Thornsberry was 2-for-3 with a run batted in. Ortleib was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a run batted in. Tracy and Corie Evans each were 1-for-3 while K. Evans was 1-for-2.

Pilgrim tossed five innings allowing four hits, an earned run while striking out four batters.

Taft tasted their first loss of the season in the second game Monday with a 4-2 loss to Dinuba.

“We knew we were going to play some tough teams,” said Emberson.

Dinuba scored one of the runs in the first inning on two errors, a walk and a fielder’s choice. In the top of the third, Dinuba doubled their lead with an opening home run.

Taft got a run back in their half of the third when Tracy scored on a wild pitch. The Lady Wildcats erased the deficit an inning later and had a chance to take the lead with runners on second and third but they could not take advantage.

Dinuba took the lead for good in the fifth thanks to a two out single and a misplayed ball. The play was followed up with a triple and single for two runs.

Emberson, Katie Evans and Thornsberry each were 2-for-3. Wilke was 1-for-2.

Pilgrim threw five innings allowing five hits, three earned runs and a walk while striking five batters.

Taft pulled an upset of their own early Tuesday morning when they outlasted eighth ranked (statewide) and undefeated Clovis 4-3.

“It was great,” said Emberson “We came out and played with them.”

Clovis held the early advantage by scoring three runs in the second inning.

Taft overtook the Clovis lead in the third inning with four runs.

After Johanna Wilke’s bunt single, Halle Neher’s sacrifice bunt and an error by the Clovis pitcher, Tracy, Corie Evans, and Burke had run scoring singles.

Clovis had a chance to bounce back in the sixth thanks to an error and a sacrifice but Katie Evans made a great catch according to Emberson to end the threat.

Tracy was 2-for-3 while Corie Evans was 1-for-3. Wilke was 1-for-2. Four of the five hits came in the third inning.

Pilgrim threw six innings allowing four hits while striking out two batters.

The victory got the Lady Wildcats to the championship bracket where they were in with three Division I schools.

Taft ended their tournament run in the semi final round with a 4-2 loss to Clovis West.

“The girls battled the whole game,” said Emberson. “They just put the ball in play.”

Clovis West scored a run in the second, two in the third and once in the fourth. Meanwhile, Taft scored both of their runs in the sixth inning.

Following Emberson’s double and Corie Evans single to put runners at first and third, Katie Evans hit a sacrifice fly.

Emberson, Thornsberry and Corie Evans each were 2-for-3. Burke and Tracy each were 1-for-3.

Pilgrim threw five innings allowing four runs on 10 hits while striking out six batters.

Taft returns to league play Tuesday when they travel to Bakersfield to take on Bakersfield Christian. The game begins at 4 p.m.