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Pioneers grab third with victory

SOFTBALL: Providence continues to improve, as it rolls to 14-0 league win against Oakwood.

May 07, 2008|By Jeff Tully

OLIVE PARK — One thing that Providence High first-year Coach Aaron Gibson has stressed with his team this season is improvement.

After the Pioneers had their share of problems early on in Liberty League play, the team has been able to turn its fortunes around.

In the second half of the league campaign, Providence has defeated teams it lost to during the first round, and the Pioneers have raised their team batting average from the mid-.200s to more than .400.

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Providence continued its second-half league push Tuesday with an easy 14-0 victory against visiting Oakwood at Olive Park.

The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.

With one game remaining in the season, the victory clinches third place in league for the Pioneers (10-6, 8-5 in league).

“This team has continued to improve as the season has gone on,” Gibson said. “The girls have finally accepted their roles on the team and realized what is expected of them. I’m extremely happy with how they’ve been able to get better.”

That improvement is most evident with Providence’s results against two league foes. During the first half of the season, the Pioneers lost to Santa Clarita Christian, 5-3, and Granada Hills Hillcrest Christian, 6-5. However, in the second half, Providence came through with a 6-4 win against Santa Clarita Christian and also defeated Hillcrest Christian, 6-2.

“We are doing things better, and hitting a lot better now then we were when we lost to those teams the first time,” Gibson said, “That is the kind of improvement that has helped us get better as a team.”

Although they defeated Oakwood (4-12, 4-8) handily in their first meeting, 20-6, on April 16, the Pioneers came into Tuesday’s game focused.

For the most part, the Providence players showed patience and restraint at the plate against a Gorillas pitcher that was slow and sometimes struggled with her control.

“It’s hard against a pitcher like that because as a hitter you want to go up there and smack everything that you see,” said Gibson, who added that Oakwood has improved significantly since their first meeting. “But the girls were able to focus at the plate.”

Providence was paced by junior shortstop Cassandra Lohman, who was three for three a triple, double, five runs batted in and two runs scored.

Lohman came into the game batting a team-best .694.

Teammate Ariane Lebrilla was two for three with a walk, three runs scored with three stolen bases and Natalie Ficocelli and Kiya Villareal had two hits each.

In the circle, Providence freshman Bronwyn Stewart (10-6) scattered three hits and struck out three to gain the win.

The only real Oakwood threat came in the first inning. Lead-off hitter Lauren Ehrich bunted for a hit and stole second. Steward got the next batter to strike out and Ehrich advanced to third base on a fielder’s choice. However, Steward extinguished the threat by striking out Aubray Fossum to end the inning.

The Pioneers wasted little time scoring, as they pushed across three runs in the first inning. The team added one more run in the second.

Providence began to pour it on in the fourth inning, scoring four runs. The Pioneers finished things up with six runs on four hits in the fifth inning.

The Pioneers end the regular season at 4 p.m. Friday with a game against host Viewpoint, which is tied for the league lead.


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