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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 12:26 pm | Fog/Mist 55º

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Hailee Rios Leads San Marcos to 8-4 Softball Win at Dos Pueblos

Senior pitcher strikes out 12, drives in four runs with home run, double

San Marcos players wait for Hailee Rios to come home after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning. Click to view larger
San Marcos players wait for Hailee Rios to come home after hitting a three-run homer in the third inning. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Hailee Rios was a force on the mound and at the plate for San Marcos in an 8-4 softball win by the Royals in a Channel League game at Dos Pueblos on Wednesday.

The Fresno State-bound Rios struck out 12 and allowed four hits in pitching a complete game at Dale Okinaka Field. With the bat, she belted a towering three-run homer to left-center field that gave San Marcos the lead for good in the third inning and added a RBI double in the fifth.

Freshman Claire Early had two singles and scored a run and freshman Savannah Tait singled and scored.

Janet Salas and freshman Brianna Castro hit solo homers for Dos Pueblos and Ellie Cutliffe and Lauren Gerken drove in runs with bunts.

The Chargers used small-ball tactics to take a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Siena Wagner drew a lead-off walk, stole second and went to third on a passed-ball third strike with Josie Uyesaka at the plate. Uyesaka stole second and Cutliffe laid down a bunt single to score Wagner. Gerken executed a squeeze play to bring home Uyesaka for the second run.

San Marcos coach Jeff Swann held a meeting at the mound and that turned out to make a huge difference for the Royals.

“The expectations were huge for our girls. They put a lot of pressure on themselves,” Swann said. “It’s like, ‘What are we going to do?’ I just tried to get them to relax. (I told them), ‘Play your game. Let it come to you. Don't try to force stuff.’ After they got those runs, some things started working in our favor. I think we got some of those nerves out and settled in.”

San Marcos shortstop Aliyah Huerta-Leipner tags out DP’s Siena Wagner at second base during the Royals’ 8-4 win. Click to view larger
San Marcos shortstop Aliyah Huerta-Leipner tags out DP’s Siena Wagner at second base during the Royals’ 8-4 win. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Rios definitely settled in. She gave up a solo homer to Janet Salas in the third and Brianna Castro in the seventh, but in between she was nails. 

“I wanted to let her to shine and do what she can do. I had all the confidence in the world,” said Swann of letting Rios go the distance. “I wanted to finish it off,” she said. 

Rios was especially effective against DP’s top hitters Wagner and Anya Schmitz. She walked both in their first at-bats and retired them the rest of the game.

“That’s Hailee.” Swann said. “She wanted that. She knew for those couple of hitters she’s really going to have to bear down.”

Rios said she plays travel ball with Wagner and Schmitz and knows what they can do at the plate.

“I know them so well and know what to stay away from,” she said with a chuckle.

“She pitched really well and hit the lights out when she needed to,” DP coach Jon Uyesaka said of Rios. “It’s always tough with her being in the circle.”

He felt the two early runs might be enough to win the game.

“I had confidence in our pitching and fielding until it started happening,” he said “One thing happened after another and we made one mistake after another.”

He added that an injury to starting catcher Cassy Hagel early in the game “kind of threw off our rhythm.”

Megan Cunnison drew a walk and Alex Pitchford was hit by a pitch from starter Gabi Gandall to start the third inning and the runners moved up on a passed ball. Aliyah Huerta-Leipner reached base when her roller snuck under the glove of Wagner at third base, scoring Cunnison to make it 2-1. Tait singled up the middle to score Pitchford for the tying run. Rios then blasted her three-run homer for a 5-2 Royals’ lead.

Salas homered in the third to pull DP to 5-3.

After Rios stranded a runner at third in the fourth inning, she ignited a three-run eruption in the fifth with a RBI double. She hammered the ball off the second base bag and it ricocheted and rolled to the fence, scoring Tait, who reached base on a fielder’s choice. Sinai Miranda, running for Rios, reached third on a wild pitch and scored on a single to left by freshman Claire Early. Early moved to third on a stolen base and passed ball and came home on an error to give San Marcos an 8-3 lead.

It's the most runs allowed by Dos Pueblos this season.

Rios was happy to see the freshmen play loose after being nervous at the start.

“I could see they were a little tight because they wanted to win so bad. That’s what I love about these freshman, they have a drive like no other. I just had to talk to them, calm them down a little bit and they got right in there,” she said.

San Marcos improves to 14-5 overall and (counting three forfeit wins over Santa Barbara) 4-1 in Channel League. Dos Pueblos is 4-6-1 and 1-1.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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