The Saddleback softball team improved to 2-2 with an 8-0 win against Los Angeles Mission College on Thursday night at the Saddleback softball diamond. Pitcher Veronica Belleza turned in another stunning performance, throwing her second no-hitter of the year.
Belleza wasn't quite as perfect as the first time around, but managed to keep the LA Mission team hitless through six innings while the offense generated enough support to win by the 8-run rule.
Belleza got herself into a jam in the opening inning when she walked the opening hitter, who then advanced to second base on a passed ball. After a sacrifice moved the runner to third base, Belleza settled down and struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning unscathed.
From that point forward, Belleza was in cruise control. The next six outs recorded by her were strikeouts as Saddleback built a 3-0 lead heading to the fourth inning.
Saddleback took a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning when the first two batters walked and the third reached on a little grounder that avoided the pitcher for a hit. Emma Estep then picked up the first RBI on a slow roller to the shortstop, who was forced to throw to first base, allowing the run to score. The Gauchos then took a 2-0 lead when Naomi Varela lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Vanessa Alvarran.
Saddleback made it 3-0 in the bottom half of the third inning when Rachel Varela hit a one-out double to left field before advancing to third base on a passed ball. She later came home to score on a sacrifice fly from Estep.
Saddleback held the three-run lead until the bottom of the sixth inning when they exploded for five runs to end the game. The Gauchos took advantage of four walks and an error before Estep finished off the Eagles with a two-run single to end the game.
Saddleback outhit Los Angeles Mission 8-0 for the night, with Rachel Varela finishing a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate. Estep finished with a team-high four RBI.
Belleza had things on cruise control once Saddleback took the lead. LA Mission hit a handful of sharp grounders that were gobbled up by the Gaucho defense to keep her pitching streak intact. Belleza finished with 12 strikeouts on the night while throwing 89 pitches.
Belleza has now recorded 25 strikeouts in 11 innings of work to start the season, allowing zero hits and zero runs. She and the Gauchos will travel to Santa Barbara City College this weekend for a double-header on Saturday. The opening game is scheduled to start at 11:00 AM.