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Holtville High School senior Lexis Smith lays down a bunt during an Imperial Valley League game against Calexico in Holtville on Tuesday, May 4. | CATHI PHILLIPS LARIOS PHOTO

SOFTBALL: Vikings Sweep Bulldogs, Still Perfect in IVL

CALEXICO — Making adjustments from game to game has been a key component to the success of the Holtville High School softball team this season.

While sweeping a doubleheader over Calexico, the Vikings proved they can win a low-scoring defensive game, but they can also win a slugfest as they showed Friday, May 7, at Emerson Field in Calexico.

On Tuesday, May 4, Holtville (13-1 overall, 8-0 and in first place in the Imperial Valley League) beat the Bulldogs 5-1. Three days later, the Vikings scored a 10-7 win in Calexico behind an offensive attack that banged out 13 hits.

“Playing the same team twice in a week means we can’t come with the same approach,” said Melissa Snyder, in her fourth year at the helm of the Vikings. “So after the first game, we went back and changed our approach a bit and today the bats were able to come to life.”

Calexico High School junior Liah Valdez hits the ball during an Imperial Valley League game against Holtville on Tuesday, May 4. | CATHI PHILLIPS LARIOS PHOTO

Holtville scored in each of the first five innings, including three runs in the third and three in the fifth to build a 10-3 lead. It was a balanced attack for the Vikings as eight of the nine batters scored at least a run with sophomore Kamryn Walker and senior Zamara Gutierrez scoring two runs each.

Vikings’ senior Emily Zarate had an RBI double in the first inning while senior Lexis Smith and freshman Brooke Strahm had RBIs in the second frame. Smith, the No. 9 hitter in the Holtville lineup, delivered a two-RBI single in the third inning that built a 6-1 lead.

“I know if I’m hitting last in the lineup the coach put me there for a reason,” said the 18-year-old Smith. “I take it as an opportunity to drive in runs because the girls batting in front of me are going to get on base.”

Calexico (9-9 overall, 4-3 in IVL) scored twice in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings and always seemed to be a big hit or play away from making it a tight ballgame, including stranding two runners on base in each of the final two innings.

“It always seemed like we were just an inch away,” said Jennifer Lopez, Calexico head coach. “But give credit to Holtville, those girls are grinders. They play to their strength.”

Gutierrez pitched and got the win for the Vikings, throwing a complete game and scattering 10 hits while striking out six and walking two.

Calexico’s offense was led by junior Liah Valdez who went 3-for-3 with three doubles and two runs scored. Junior Andrea Lopez finished with a double and a triple and scored twice.

Eight of the nine Vikings in the batting order had at least one hit with each of the top four in the lineup delivering two hits each.

“These girls are fearless,” Snyder said. “They get in that batter’s box and they are going to bring it no matter who they are facing.”

In the game on Tuesday, May 4, only one Viking had multiple hits as freshman Kaitlyn Havens had two hits and drove in two runs. Sophomores Sofie Irungaray and Demi Johnston both drove in runs for the 5-1 Holtville victory.

Kalli Strahm pitched a complete game for the victory on May 4, allowing one run on six hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

For the Bulldogs on Tuesday, their only run came when Valdez drove in Lopez with a double in the first inning to take a quick 1-0 lead.

Holtville responded with a run in the bottom of the first, two in the third and solo runs in the fifth and sixth to grab the 5-1 win.

Up next for the Vikings is a home game set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, against Palo Verde of Blythe, with the return game in Blythe set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 13.

Calexico travels to El Centro to take on Central Union High at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, then hosts the Spartans at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 14.

Holtville High School senior Emily Zarate slides safely into second base before Calexico High junior Shanelle Gascon can get the ball during their Imperial Valley League in Holtville on Tuesday, May 4. | CATHI PHILLIPS LARIOS PHOTO