The Lady Falcon’s opponent being the Kerman High School Lady Lions, just 18 miles west of Fresno, ensured that the majority of the people in the crowd would not be supporting the Lady Falcons. This was evident during the top of the first inning, as Kerman ripped off back to back opposite field base hits that gave the Lady Lions a quick 1 – 0 lead and their fans something cheer about.
Still, senior pitcher Allie Shaw (4 and 2/3’s innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 Earned Run) navigated her way through the rest of the inning and got the Lady Falcons out without any further damage done. After she made adjustments, Shaw threw 3 scoreless innings and lasted to the second out of the 5th before a string of rare infield errors allowed 3 more runs to score and bounced her from the game.
Independence High School Softball team posing with the coveted CIF Central Section Valley Championship plaque.
Fellow senior Jocelyn Reyes then came in to throw the final 2 and 1/3 innings—giving up only one run on a solo shot—to finish up the game.
The Lady Falcons’ bats were the biggest story of the night, as Independence posted 11 runs on 18 hits. Junior Jessica Munoz (named MVP of the game) led the charge, going 4 – 5 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Junior Aariyana Egan made a strong contribution as well, going 2 – 5 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored as well.
After being shut out in the first inning, down 1 – 0. Independence reeled off a 4 run 2nd inning, followed by a 6 run 3rd inning to put them in a commanding lead of 10 – 1 by the end of the 3rd inning. Independence would take on one more in the 4th to give the Lady Falcons an 11 – 1 lead. The girls were just one out away from finishing off Kerman in the 5th inning, by way of the mercy rule, before 3 errors in a row allowed 3 runs to score, extending the game. But Independence didn’t flinch, finishing up the final two innings in solid fashion to clinch their first ever Valley Champioship. Senior Nicole Price, junior Lydia Velasquez, and sophomores Ashley Mick and Cindy Sanchez all contributed with multiple hits and RBIs as well. It was a strong display of a true team victory.
Independence High School Captain Nicole Price was clutch at the plate all season.
In the DIII Valley Championship game, she recorded multiple hits and RBIs for the Lady Falcons.
Coaches Mike D’Amato and Sas Price reiterated to me the emphasis on playing as a team and spoke after the game about the joy and excitement for them just to see the smiles on the girls’ faces knowing the work that they had put in through the duration of the season.
It is also fitting to note that another set of CIF Central Section Valley Championship coaches from Independence High School were in attendance to support the softball team. Coaches Nate Johnson and Grant Bingham, who led the Lady Falcons to the DII Valley Championship in girls basketball, were there to witness this jubilant moment and support another championship team at Independence High School.