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Rattlers stun No. 10 Clemens on walk-off single

Catcher Jessica DeLeon runs around the bases following her two-run homer in the fourth inning.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo

Rattlers stun No. 10 Clemens on walk-off single

Sunday, March 31, 2024

The Rattlers overcame adversity at every turn Thursday night.

After going down 3-0 in the first three and a half innings, San Marcos responded on multiple occasions before sophomore pitcher Adelaida Sierra hit a game-winning walk off single to right field securing a 5-4 comeback win over Schertz Clemens. Sierra also pitched a complete game and stranded a runner in scoring position to keep the Buffs heading into the bottom of the seventh.

“I think we’ve really turned a corner this week. The way we played on Tuesday and the way we played tonight — two of the best teams in the district — number one and two. Like I said last time, (Clemens is) very well coached, very athletic. Earlier in the season we wouldn’t play well from behind, and when we got down we would kind of stay down,” head coach Cathy Stoughton said. “But we’re figuring it out. We’re keeping our hunger the whole game. People were having good at-bats. Selena Silva in that last inning — fouling off all those pitches and then finding a way to scratch on to start the inning off — those are the kinds of things that make a difference.”

Clemens started off the game in rhythm, hitting a single in their first atbat and following that up with a sacrifice bunt. The Buffs then hit a sacrifice fly out to right field that brought in the first run of the game and gave them an early 1-0 lead. Sierra got out of the inning without any more damage after forcing a fly out, but San Marcos went down in order in the bottom of the first.

Sierra responded with a three up, three down inning of her own that included her first two strikeouts of the game to keep Clemens scoreless in the second. San Marcos wasn’t able to get anything going during their second at-bat either, going down in order once again.

Clemens picked up on some of the momentum they built in the first in the top of the third. After striking out in their first at-bat of the inning, the Buffs hit a triple and followed it up with an RBI double to push their lead to 2-0. Sierra kept the damage minimal though, forcing a ground out and a pop out afterwards to strand a runner in scoring position. The Rattlers got runners on first and second with two outs thanks to a walk and a single, but weren’t able to bring them home.

San Marcos got twostraight outs to start the fourth, but Clemens had a two-out rally waiting in the wings. After a ground out and a strikeout, the Buffs hit back to back doubles to bring in another run and extend their lead to 3-0. Sierra once again held Clemens to only one run in the inning, striking out the final batter and stranding a runner on second in the process.

San Marcos also had something brewing at the plate in the fourth — senior Ava Serna started off the inning with a single to the outfield to kick off the inning bringing up fellow senior Jessica De-Leon. DeLeon smacked a no-doubt home run over the center field wall to give the Rattlers a much needed jolt of momentum while also cutting their deficit to 3-2.

“Early on we had a lot of strikeouts and you can’t win games when you don’t put the ball in play because you’re not putting pressure on the defense. We talked about that constantly, but we’re having better at bats. We’re being more disciplined as a team. We’re watching bad pitches go by instead of chasing, and I think that’s why we’re getting better looks and are hitting the ball much better right now,” Stoughton said. “We’ve had some games where we’ve lost 2-1, 1-0, 2-0, and you can’t win when you don’t score. So that’s been a key for us the last couple of games is that our offense has really gotten jump started. One through 9, we have everybody contributing in the lineup.”

The Buffs put the pressure back on the Rattlers quickly though, beginning the fifth with two singles in a row. After forcing two straight groundouts, a wild pitch brought in Clemens’ fourth run of the night. Sierra kept her composure as she had throughout the game, ending the inning with a strikeout to hold Clemens to only one run in the inning.

San Marcos had a response of their own waiting in the fifth, starting off the inning with a walk before an error in right field put both runners in scoring position. Freshman Arianna Flores then hit a ball to the infield that looked like it would work as a sacrifice ground out but beat the throw at first to record an RBI single and cut the lead to 4-3. A base running error at third on a steal attempt from Flores put another out on the board, and the Buffs closed out the inning by forcing a pop out.

Sierra got back in rhythm in the sixth, putting Clemens down in order with two-straight strikeouts to put a zero on the scoreboard. The Rattlers did get a runner to second in the bottom of the inning, but weren’t able to bring in the run, setting San Marcos up with one more chance at the plate to extend the game.

Sierra made sure the Rattlers’ deficit stayed where it was. The sophomore only allowed one batter on base due to an error and forced outs in every other at-bat in the seventh to record her second- straight shutout inning. San Marcos started off their potential final at-bat with a strikeout, but started to gain momentum after that. Selena Silva hit a single and then Flores was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. That brought up Silva, who hit an RBI single to the outfield to tie the game at 4-4 and at the least force extras.

The Rattlers followed up that at-bat with a pop up, bringing Sierra to the plate. The sophomore went down 0-2 to start off the at-bat, but worked the count all the way back to 3-2 before smacking a deep shot to right field to secure the walk off win and San Marcos’ second- straight district win.

“I think we were thinking [going into the bottom of the seventh] just to be flawless in our execution,” Sierra said. “Make contact with the ball, nothing too big — just work together as a team.”

“We knew we had to be smart and not chase pitches off or high. We just had to wait for the pitch (and execute),” Serna added.

San Marcos returns home on April 2 to match up with Cibolo Steele at 7 p.m.

“Addy coming in with two strikes and being really patient and not being overanxious and winning the ball game. I felt that was a great thing for her as well as she pitched tonight. Ava was clutch with that hit, there’s just so many things that are happening now. I think you want to be hot at the right time like I said [earlier in the year] and I think we’re getting there and everybody’s playing well; it’s all working,” Stoughton said. “The girls have gotten so much confidence and it’s been a great week for us. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. Every win is a big win for us, and we’ve got a chance to get Steele again on Tuesday; and I know we’ve been waiting to get an opportunity for that one, so we’re going to enjoy our families this weekend and come back ready to go on Monday.”

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