The Saddleback softball team opened the season at Mt. San Antonio College on Friday with a 2-1 win against one of the perennial powers in the state of California. The softball team stunned the Mounties late, opening the season with a big win.
Saddleback rode the arm of pitcher Veronica Belleza, who was off to a great start in 2020 before the season was cut short due to COVID-19. Belleza picked up where she left off, carrying a no-hitter against Mt. SAC heading into the sixth inning. It wasn't until the bottom half of the sixth when the Mounties finally broke through for a pair of hits and a run, cutting the Saddleback's lead to 2-1. She then retired Mt. San Antonio in order in the seventh inning, getting three straight pop-ups to secure the win. Bellezza finished with nine strikeouts against only one walk.
Saddleback broke a scoreless tie in the top half of the sixth inning when Mt. San Antonio walked the first two batters in the lineup and they were advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Emma Estep. Katie Schmidt then stepped to the plate and delivered a single, scoring the first run of the game as Anne Thibert crossed home plate. Rachel Varela then reached on a fielder's choice as Ashanti Woods crossed home plate with the second run of the inning.
It was the first meeting with Mt. San Antonio since the Mounties scored a 2-1 win against Saddleback in February of 2017. Saddleback returned the favor to start the season 1-0.
Saddleback will play again in the Orange Empire Conference opener at Golden West on Wednesday. The softball team and the Rustlers will play a double-header starting at 1:00 PM in Huntington Beach.