Amanda and Zach Buck welcomed their third child, Cody Ryan, to the world March 23rd, but the Elk Grove softball coach wasn’t going to allow the couple’s nine-pound , five-ounce bundle of joy to keep her away from coaching, totally.
The former Elk Grove basketball star turned-P.E. teacher and coach at her alma mater has watched her club struggle a bit in the first month of the season. Now they seem to have turned a corner the past few games.
The Herd went 2-2 at the Tracy Tournament last weekend then look impressive on Wednesday in beating St. Francis, 3-2, in a Delta League game.
Then Friday Elk Grove, down 12-7, pulled out some softball magic with an improbable seven-run seventh inning capped by Miranda Miles’ bases-loaded triple with two outs to defeat Pleasant Grove, 14-12. The two clubs combined for 31 hits.
With pitcher Courtney Riley ailing with an elbow issue, Buck decided to go first with left-hander Miles in the circle. Miles gave up nine runs on ten hits through four and 2/3rds innings, but just four of those runs were earned. Down 9-4, Buck went to Danielle Levin.
“She pitched pretty good, but Jazzie (catcher Jazmine Moreno) called a heck of a game,” Buck said.
Levin pitched a scoreless sixth inning after Elk Grove narrowed the score to 9-7 with three in the fifth. Then the Eagles got three more in the seventh and seemed to have an insurmountable lead going to the bottom of the frame.
“It’s always hard to lose in the bottom of the seventh when you’re ahead by five runs,” Eagles’ head coach Russ Pettis said. “That’s the Delta League. There are lots of strong teams and this is a typical game with Elk Grove and us and like, with Sheldon and us. It’s like a Section (playoff) game.”
Miles led off the seventh with a single followed by singles by Alexandria Hale and Courtney Riley. Hannah Steege walked to force in a run. Madison Coronado then hit a ball right to first baseman Kianah Corey who decided to try for a force at home, but her throw got away from the catcher and Hale and Riley scored to make it 12-10. Moreno flew out to centerfield for the first out. Ariyana Miranda walked to load the bases and then Lauren Johnston stroked an infield single to score Steege. Elk Grove was within one, 12-11, and the bases were loaded.
Eagle pitcher Raeanna Young struck out Nina Revoir, but then gave up Miles’ game winner.
Miles was four-for-four at the plate Friday with five RBI’s. She had two doubles to go with the game-winning triple.
“That was one of the best-hit balls I’ve seen in a long time,” Buck commented. “She just smoked it.”
Elk Grove moved to .500 at 6-6 overall.
“We have been fighting this year, but we haven’t strung them all together,” Buck explained. “Tonight, we finally strung them all together. Our DP’s came in and had a great day and Miranda Miles had a heck of a day.”
Elk Grove is now tied with PG and Franklin for second place in the Delta at 3-1. Buck says there are lots of things to work on to stay there.
“Our defense needs some tightening up,” she said. “We are giving too many unearned runs. We’re not backing up our pitcher too well on defense and timely hitting, we’re leaving too many runners on base.”
Pettis says after a slow start by the Eagles (3-3), the team is playing much better as of late.
“We’ve been playing tough competition,” he explained “We played Rocklin and Del Campo, two of the best teams in our Section. We’ve been play better as of late. Today we hit the ball very well. A couple blunders in the last inning was the difference in the game.”
Vicky Camina led Pleasant Grove Friday by going four-for-five with a double and one RBI. Emily Martin was three-for-four with two doubles, three runs scored and six RBI’s.