DEDEDO, Guam – Small ball ruled the day as Guam High’s softball team repeated its island softball title of a year ago.
Sophomore right-hander and league MVP Brinnlyn Hardt pitched a one-hitter, striking out nine, as the Panthers blanked Tiyan 12-0 on Saturday at Okkodo High School Field.
But it was a change in hitting strategy, plus multi-hit performances by the bottom three and top two batters in the lineup, that made the difference, coach Amanda Mansel said.
“Their pitcher had an interesting windup, representative of something that you see in slo-pitch,” Mansel said of Titans right-hander Zoey Indalecio. “It took the players a couple of innings to get (used to) her style of pitching.”
Tiyan’s defense, especially in the outfield, “played to our strengths,” Mansel said.
So, rather than rely on power hitting, which netted the Panthers 25 extra-base hits during the season and playoffs, “we switched strategy and the girls played excellent, smart, fundamental ball,” Mansel said.
Guam High got two squeeze bunts for RBIs by Madalyn Mansel, the coach’s daughter. Hardt drove in a run with a fielder’s choice groundout. Riana Tominez stole home twice and drove in two runs with singles. Aubrey Frank scored on a wild pitch and two more runs came in on errors.
“Small ball was really crucial in this game,” Hardt said. “We’ve worked a lot on bunting and how to base-run in situations, so I think that really paid off.”
Morgen Piehl, the leadoff batter, went 2-for-5 and Tominez, the second batter, was 3-for-4. No. 5 hitter Brianni Soto batted 3-for-4, No. 7 batter Rya Castro 2-for-3, Frank at No. 8 was 2-for-4 and the No. 9 hitter, Sierra Connor, hit 3-for-3, including an RBI double.
Typical elements of the Panthers’ game were still present, such as base-stealing: They stole 10 bases in all, led by Frank with three. For the season, the Panthers stole 75 bases, with Tominez and Becca Rapier leading the team with 13 each.
And there was Hardt, who pitched her fourth shutout and finished 8-0 for the Guam season, including the playoffs. Her streak of 14 2/3 no-hit innings ended in the fourth when first-team All-Island shortstop Shanesse Aldan bunted her way on base.
Other than that, Hardt was her usual hard-throwing self. In 30 innings this season including playoffs, she gave up four hits, five walks and one earned run and struck out 59 batters. She also batted .545 with a team-high four home runs and 23 RBIs.
She and Mansel credited Rapier, a freshman catcher for being a steady presence behind the plate and calling the right pitches in the right situations. She played baseball for the Panthers in the fall and was named second-team All-Island.
“We were fortunate to have Becca on the team and they immediately had that pitcher-catcher bond,” Mansel said. “If they’re both on their game, then they’re unstoppable.”
“She’s a great player,” Hardt said of Rapier, All-Island honorable mention, who led the team with a .650 batting average. “She keeps the mood lightened, especially when we’re down, and helps us keep up the momentum.”
The victory came less than 24 hours after Guam High’s girls soccer team won its third league title, beating Notre Dame 4-0 at Panthers Field.
“Excellent feeling, going back to school on Monday bringing home trophies and titles,” Mansel said. “Hopefully, we can continue doing that next season.”