Conklin stars on mound, at plate for S’ville in victory over Sonora

By Vongni Yang, The Union Democrat March 14, 2014 12:00 am

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Summerville starting pitcher Shelby Conklin (left) rocks and gets ready to fire on Thursday against Sonora in Tuolumne.
Summerville Bear Shelby Conklin is just a sophomore, but on Thursday afternoon she looked like a varsity veteran.

Conklin threw a limited amount of pitches and faced 17 batters in four innings. Her control, fastball and changeup kept the Sonora Wildcats off balance at the plate.

Conklin struck out seven, gave up two hits and drove in two runs to help lift the Summerville softball team past cross-county rival Sonora, 15-4, in a non-league game in Tuolumne.

“I thought I did well,” Conklin said. “I could have done better, probably a little more less balls, but overall, I thought I did OK. I think our team has been coming together a lot more. We were having some difficulty in the past games, but we worked well together today.”

Summerville surged ahead in the bottom of the first inning. 

Bear leadoff hitter Lydia Vass drew a walk and advanced to second when Chace Bailey laid down a perfectly executed bunt that went for a single. After Vass advanced to third, Conklin drove her in with a sacrifice fly. Cleanup hitter Sydney Owens followed with a RBI-single down the third base line to plate Bailey. 

The Bears added another run on a Sonora error and held an early 3-0 lead.

“I thought we improved a lot from our last few games,” Conklin said. “We been having trouble with hitting. I thought today, we did a lot better timing-wise to not hit on balls and focusing on the strike zone.”

Sonora answered in the second when Bre Blackmore walked, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. She scored on a Christian Ferraro’s fielder’s choice to cut Summerville’s advantage to 3-1.

But Summerville, after being shutout by Ripon on Tuesday, came alive with the bat.

The Bears scored five runs in the bottom of the second. Chelsea Magnante-Wert hit a lined single into left field and  advanced to third when Vass reached first on an error. Magnante-Wert then raced home on a wild pitch.

 After the score, Bailey drove in Vass on a pop-single to center field and Conklin provided the hit that brought Bailey home. Conklin advanced to second  on a fielder’s choice and then made her way to third on an error.

Kylee Sandoval walked and Liz Vass was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Sierra Englethen  smacked a two-run single and Summerville pulled ahead 8-1.

“We were swinging at better pitches today,” said Bears head coach Ben Watson. “We been all year kind of been swinging at pitches outside the zone. Today, I think we were a little bit more disciplined swinging the bat. That was a plus on offense. That was a step in the right direction.”

Conklin’s strongest effort came in the third. She sent Sonora down in order with two ground outs and a strike out.

“She pitched well,” Watson said of Conklin. “As the game went on, she got stronger and stronger. She’s getting better every outing.”

Summerville scored seven more runs in the third and fourth inning, respectively, and Sonora added three combined runs in the fourth and fifth. 

The game was called after the fifth due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Freshman Amanda Mena led the Wildcats batting 2 for 3, including a triple and an RBI. Ronnie Staggs, Erin Campiotti and Christian Ferraro all had singles. 

“I think the biggest thing is they didn’t give up,” said Sonora head coach Sean Smiley. “We did a couple of things. We executed a couple of plays. There’s still a lot we have to work on. We have to work on our cuts and throwing in front of the runner instead of behind the runner, but they’re getting better from where we started. That’s the best part of it.”

Summerville senior Caitie Egger went 2 for 3 and tied with Engle for a game-high three RBI. Seven different players recorded a hit and the Bears combined for a season-high 12 hits.

“Sierra Engle has been swinging the bat really good,” Watson said. “And Caitie Egger’s been swinging the bat really good the past couple of games. Those girls have really improved so far this season.”

Sonora opens Valley Oak League play against Sierra in Manteca, and Summerville hosts Golden Valley. Both games are today and first pitch is at 3:30 p.m.

“The biggest thing in league is we’re going to face some pitchers who are probably going to be a bit overpowering,” Smiley said. “That’s kind of where we’re at right now. We don’t have the depth in pitching, but we need to hit and execute plays as well.”