The Feather River College softball team is off to a strong start this season, after the Golden Eagles won the first seven games on their schedule and then bounced back from a narrow 2-1 loss against Delta with an 8-4 win over Reedley.
The Golden Eagles opened the 2012 season Feb. 3 with victories over Santa Rosa College and Gavilan College.
In game one, FRC came out swinging and scored five runs in the second inning. The Golden Eagles never looked back on their way to a 9-1 win.
FRC was led by a strong pitching performance from Melissa Smith. She went six shutout innings, striking out five and only allowing three hits.
The Feather River offense was led by Gabby Palmer, Lexi McKinnon and Alexa Youngberg, who each had two hits.
Game two matched the Golden Eagles up against Gavilan College out of Gilroy. The game stayed scoreless until the third inning, when Ashley Barrett lined a shot over the right field fence to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Palmer followed with a walk, then Sonia Marin followed with a double off the wall, scoring Palmer.
Feather River scored two more runs in the fourth inning with a solo home run off the bat of Youngberg and another double by Marin, which scored Rachel Hatzell.
This was all the runs starting pitcher Julianna Waller would need, as she dominated the game with seven strong innings. Waller gave a complete game performance, striking out five while giving up only one run in the seventh.
On Feb. 4, the Golden Eagles outscored their opponents 29-0 en route to their third and fourth victories of the season.
Game one matched up the Golden Eagles against Mission College. The scores came early and often for the Eagles’ offense, as they registered eight runs in the second, one in the third, one in the fourth and six in the fifth.
The FRC offense was led by Palmer, Marin, Kristina Rozelle and Karly Hall, who each recorded three hits. Waller added two hits.
Smith led the Golden Eagles from the pitcher’s circle, striking out three Mission College hitters en route to a 16-0 shutout for her second win of the season.
In game two, the Golden Eagles took on the Victor Valley Rams. FRC scored first with a single run in the first inning, but it was the second inning that proved to be the back breaker for Victor Valley, as the Golden Eagles scored 12.
FRC’s offense was led by Barrett and Hall, who each had two hits.
Waller dominated in the pitcher’s circle, allowing only two hits while striking out six.
On Sunday, host team Monterey Peninsula College matched up against FRC. This was a tough test, as the Golden Eagles ran into a quality pitcher for Monterey.
The game became a pitchers’ dual and was tied 0-0 going into the top of the seventh inning. Hall led off the seventh by drawing a walk. After a pop up to the first baseman for the first out, Youngberg delivered a solid single to left field, which set the stage for Waller.
Waller lined a ball to left field, and the left fielder was unable to make the play, breaking the tie and giving the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Barrett then stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and delivered a double to the right field wall, scoring the second and final run of the inning.
That was all starting pitcher Smith needed, as she was fantastic all game. Smith allowed only three scattered hits while dominating the Monterey batters with eight strikeouts. The game ended in a 2-0 victory.
Next up for Feather River was a doubleheader at Foothill College Feb. 18, and the Golden Eagles had no problem winning both games, 17-1 and 8-3.
The following week, Feather River found itself in a dogfight with No. 3 ranked San Joaquin Delta College in the first game of a double header Feb. 25.
In a pitchers’ duel that matched up FRC’s Smith and Delta’s Kelsie Monroe, the game remained scoreless until the fifth inning, when FRC’s Rozelle stepped to the plate with Barrett on second base.
With two outs, Rozelle delivered an RBI single to put the Golden Eagles on top 1-0.
Delta answered right back in the bottom of the fifth with a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing in the tying run. Delta added another run in the top of the sixth, which proved to be the game winner, and the Golden Eagles dropped their first game of the season in a close 2-1 battle.
“When in close games against good teams, it comes down to defense,” said FRC head coach Josh Taylor. “We made two more mistakes than they did, and that proved to be the difference.”
In game two, the Golden Eagles took on Reedley College. FRC came out swinging and scored one run in the first inning on an RBI double by Rozelle.
The Golden Eagles added to their score in the third inning with a three-run home run by McKinnon.
FRC continued to pressure Reedley in the fourth inning with RBIs off the bats of Barrett and Rozelle.
The game tightened up in the fifth, when Reedley’s Bri Perez sent a 0-0 pitch over the right field wall for a grand slam, shrinking FRC’s lead to 6-4.
The Golden Eagles wasted little time answering back, scoring two more runs in the top of the sixth with an RBI single by McKinnon. This pushed FRC’s lead to 8-4, which ended up being the final score of the game.