In its first seven Southwest Yosemite League softball games, Stockdale had outscored opponents 64-2.
The top-ranked team in the BVarsity Central Section rankings came into Wednesday’s game at Liberty undefeated and ranked No. 6 in the country in MaxPreps XCellent 25.
But because of a 12-day hiatus between games and a fantastic pitching performance by Liberty’s Kylee Fahy, the Mustangs had a big challenge before remaining undefeated with a 3-1 win against the Patriots in eight innings.
“(Fahy) threw a great game today,” Stockdale coach Amanda Hockett said. “We weren’t executing our at-bats like we have in the past. We swung at some bad pitches.”
Fahy (3-1) struck out 10 batters and had a no-hitter with two outs in the top of the seventh inning — though Liberty actually trailed 1-0 — before Alyssa Charles singled to right.
“She’s a fantastic player and does great things for us,” Liberty interim coach Jess Soto said.
All three runs for Stockdale were unearned.
Stockdale freshman pitcher Sydney Hornbuckle (13-0) nearly recorded her 10th shutout, but Nayely Delgado singled in the bottom of the seventh and scored on a hard grounder by Allison Miller that Stockdale second baseman Cheyenne Hornbuckle couldn’t field, tying the score at 1-1 and forcing extra innings.
“We feel really solid about today’s effort,” said Soto, who took over after first-year coach Ryane Peterson gave birth to a son, Easton, three weeks ago. “We know that we have continually gotten better as the season has gone on, and this is proof of that.”
Stockdale took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Fahy hit Haleigh Hutton with a pitch to open the inning. Hutton advanced to second on a wild pitch, went to third on Vanessa Barron’s sacrifice bunt and scored from third base when catcher Taylor Palacios’ throw to first went into right field after a dropped third strike.
“We’ve had other games where we weren’t able to hit well and we were able to chip away,” Hockett said. “That’s part of working on bunting, baserunning and taking advantage of every opportunity we get.”
Stockdale broke the 1-1 tie in the eighth. Cheyenne Hornbuckle led off with a double and scored on an error. A batter later, Hutton scored on another error.
Palacios singled to open the bottom of the eighth for Liberty, and Kayla Vinsant walked to put the tying runs on base. But two batters later, Sydney Hornbuckle fielded a ground ball by Alexandra Vengas and started a 1-5-3 double play completed when Barron rifled the ball to Mustangs’ first baseman Izzy Nieblas to end the game.
Stockdale has won 35 of its past 36 games dating back to last season. The only loss during that stretch was in the Central Section Division I semifinals at Clovis-Buchanan last May.
The Mustangs’ SWYL win streak is 29. Their last league loss was 9-6 to Liberty in 14 innings on April 17, 2015.
These two teams meet again today at 4 p.m. at Stockdale, likely with the same pitchers starting.
“I assume we will come out and see Kylee again because she threw so well against us (Wednesday),” Hockett said. “We are just going to try to have better at-bats and better pitch selection and trying to move forward.”