SFT: Vierra’s homer gives SBCC split with Hancock

Christal Vierra belted a homer in the sixth inning to lift SBCC over first-place Hancock in the second game of a doubleheader.

Christal Vierra belted a homer in the sixth inning to lift SBCC over first-place Hancock in the second game of a doubleheader.


After missing five games with an injury, Christal Vierra returned to the SBCC softball lineup with a bang on Tuesday as the Vaqueros split a marathon WSC Gold doubleheader with first-place Hancock.

Vierra belted her second homer of the year in the sixth inning at Pershing Park and the Vaqueros went on to post a 1-0 win in the nightcap. The first game was a pitcher’s duel that went 12 innings before the Bulldogs came away with a 2-1 win.

Hancock (22-13, 11-3) remained in a first-place tie with Cuesta. The Vaqueros (17-15, 8-4) are in third place, one game ahead of Ventura (6-4).

With one out in the sixth, Vierra worked the count to 3-2, then fouled off four pitches before blasting the ball over the left-field fence. She hit three balls for long outs earlier in the day.

“I made sure I was on the back of the ball,” said Vierra, a freshman third baseman from Sacramento. “When you’re in the back, you can totally read her spin.

“I was waiting for this to happen and finally, it happened.”

Katie Cheneault, the state leader in strikeouts, fanned 22 in the first game and threw a three-hitter. She’s struck out 318 in 205 innings. Celeste Acosta was nearly as effective for Santa Barbara, striking out 13 and giving up six hits.

The Vaqueros took the conference series from Hancock 2-1, thanks to a 1-hitter by Acosta on March 13 in Santa Maria. The 13 strikeouts by Acosta on Tuesday were a season high, eclipsing her previous best by five.

“It starts in my head and I came out ready,” said Acosta when asked about her first-game pitching performance. “I knew they wanted to get a win against us. We wanted to get two wins but once we lost the first, I knew I had to come out even harder in the second game.”

Acosta pitched a four-hitter in Game 2 with three strikeouts. Chenault tossed a six-hitter with six strikeouts, giving her 28 for the day.

Cheneault struck out nine of the first 10 batters in Game 1. The only hits she allowed in the first 10 innings were singles to Alice Cen in the fourth and Amanda Caras in the ninth.

Starting in the 10th, the international tiebreaker went into effect with a runner being placed on second base to start each at-bat.

In the top of the 12th, the Vaqueros tried to get Megan Love at third but she was safe and the Bulldogs had runners at first and third. Jessica Rothanzl hit a sacrifice fly and Missy Regalado followed with an RBI single to right.

The Vaqueros got a run back in the bottom of the 12th when Cen was sacrificed to third and scored on a long sacrifice fly by Vierra.

“We made some mental mistakes in that first game that kind of cost us the game,” said SBCC coach Paula Congleton. “We got thrown out at home (in the 11th). Katie is a great pitcher but so is C (Celeste Acosta). She showed that she can hang with the best of ‘em.

“In the second game, we started strong, then went a little bit flat. Christal had been hitting the ball hard all day long. Right before her homer, I told Kailey (Snyder, the pitching coach) that Christal has been hitting the ball like crazy but she hasn’t been on base.

“Christal also won the game up at Hancock with a two-run double off the fence.”

The Vaqueros will take on the other first-place team, Cuesta, on Thursday in San Luis Obispo.