Bruins Fall to St. Francis in Fantastic Pitchers’ Duel

By Andrew Bensch

It was a glorious afternoon in Mountain View on Tuesday as the Santa Clara Bruins took on the St. Francis Lancers. The game ended up being a thrilling pitchers’ duel. All Santa Clara needed was a single run because Bruins’ starter Kathryn Caravalho threw seven shutout innings. Unfortunately for Bruins fans, St. Francis’ counterpart Jordan Schuring matched those zeros with seven shutout innings of her own. Going into extra innings, the two sides each put a runner at second base to start the inning. After a scoreless top half of the eighth, the Lancers would finally break through with a walk-off double in the bottom.

“We want to set the tempo early. Where are we with some of the better schools in the area?” said Bruins Head Coach John Rahbar on putting a tough West Catholic Athletic League team on the early part of the schedule. “We did a terrific, terrific job. I’m so proud of the girls today.”

Caravalho had her heater blowing batters away and the offspeed was getting them off balance. Amazingly, the senior will throw anywhere from 80-90 percent of the Bruins’ innings this season.

“My pitches were working really well, my rise was what I was getting them out on primarily,” remarked Caravalho on her pitching performance. “It was working well and we were able to keep it going through the game.

The Bruin defenders behind Caravalho also came up large. Shortstop Navaeh Tayama started a 6-4-3 double play in the second and catcher Aliyah Robles picked off the back runner at first base to end the fourth inning.

“I don’t exactly remember what situation the pick off was, but I just remember telling [my defenders] that they saved my life,” chuckled Caravalho. “And the double play got us out of a jam too.”

Looking back at the game, the Bruins’ main opportunity to score came in the first inning. Tayama led off the game with a double off the wall. The Bruins then proceeded to load the bases, but were unable to score. Santa Clara would muster just one hit over the next seven innings.

With three of Santa Clara’s strongest hitters from last season having graduated in Hailey Hiett, Alyson Teixeira and Natasha Sachdeva, it appears the Bruins might have to rely quite a bit on returners like Vanessa Bontrager and Caravalho to drive in runs. The two are the only seniors on the roster and against the Lancers they were batting third and fourth in the order respectively. Both of them demonstrated that they are dangerous at the plate. Caravalho muscled a bloop single to right field in the first inning and Vanessa Bontrager hit a line drive shot right at the first baseman for an unfortunate out in the third.

But who will get on base in front of them? The Bruins might just have a couple of quality table setters. Tayema had the hardest hit of the afternoon with her double off the wall as the first batter of the game. Furthermore, the Bruins’ No. 2 hitter is actually Vanessa Bontrager’s younger sister Alisa Bontrager. Like her sister, the younger Bontrager also hit a ball sharply in the third inning that was stopped on a nice play by the Lancers’ first baseman.

The Bruins will have a little over a week off now before hosting Homestead in their league opener on March 14.