By Dave Wagner
The heavens opened up in the seventh inning of Friday’s District 4-5A softball nightcap between Clovis High and Manzano, and an inning later the floodgates opened.
A brief rainshower delayed the game in the top of the seventh for all of four minutes with the score tied 1-1. Then both teams suddenly erupted in the eighth and when the fireworks were over, the Lady Monarchs gained a split of the doubleheader with a 6-5 win at Lady Wildcat Complex.
Clovis won the first game 3-2.
With the international tiebreaker rule in effect (each team starting the extra innings with a runner at second), Manzano (7-9, 1-1 district) took advantage of some shaky defense to seemingly take control. Lady Wildcats pitcher Paige Adare opted, unsuccessfully, to go for the lead runner at third on a sacrifice bunt before Marquee Carbajal followed with a two-run single and circled the bases when catcher Alicia Odom’s return throw trying to get her at second sailed into the outfield.
Designated player Layna Nelson later added a two-run double. That was just enough to hold off the Lady Cats’ four-run eruption in the bottom half, highlighted by Cynthia Lucio’s three-run double.
“It was a nail-biter,” Manzano coach Art Samora said. “I’m proud of my ladies for battling through in extra innings.
“The bottom line is both clubs played excellent games. The district is anyone’s game right now.”
Adare (7-7), who pitched a six-hitter to win the opener, gave up a leadoff single to Shante Payne in the second game but did not allow another hit until the eighth.
The Lady Cats (10-8, 1-3) hurt themselves in the nightcap by having three runners thrown out on the bases.
“Our baserunning mistakes hurt us,” Clovis coach Larry Trower said. “With the tiebreaker deal, we just fell apart. But we almost came back.”
Manzano freshman Emily Huhta (7-8) matched Adare pitch-for-pitch most of the night. All three first-game runs against Huhta were unearned, the last two scoring in the fourth when Payne dropped Adare’s two-out fly in right-center after a long run.
Meantime, after giving up base knocks to four of the first seven hitters, Adare settled in and allowed just two hits the rest of the way.
“Paige is a tough pitcher; she’s made so much improvement since last year,” Samora said. “Coach Trower has an excellent ballclub. I personally think he’s one of the best coaches in the state.”
Huhta had the Lady Cats shut out in the nightcap until Odom reached on a two-out infield hit in the fifth and scored when Sara Salguero whacked a long triple to left field on an 0-2 pitch.
Odom finished the night 5-for-7 for the Lady Cats, with three runs scored and two driven in, while Adare Laura Wood each had three hits in the twin bill.
Clovis 3, Manzano 2
Manzano 100 100 0 — 2 6 2
Clovis 100 200 x — 3 6 2
Emily Huhta and Tiffany Sisneros; Paige Adare and Alicia Odom. W — Adare (7-6). L — Huhta (6-8). LOB — Manzano 7, Clovis 6. 2B — Manzano: Layna Nelson. 3B — Clovis: Odom. T —1:15.
Manzano 6, Clovis 5
Manzano 100 000 05 — 6 6 1
Clovis 000 001 04 — 5 10 4
Huhta and Sisneros; Adare and Odom. W — Huhta (7-8). L — Adare (7-7). DP — Manzano 2, Clovis 1. LOB — Manzano 4, Clovis 7. 2B — Manzano: Nelson. Clovis: Cynthia Lucio. 3B — Clovis: Sara Salguero. T — 1:35. JV score — Clovis 3, Manzano 0.