TEMPLETON — The pitching match-up that nearly everyone has been waiting for finally took place on Tuesday afternoon at Vineyard Elementary in Templeton. It is a match that might have never seen if not for the move into the Central Section because without that the Templeton Eagles softball team would still be playing in the Los Padres League, but ever since the move was made official this date has been circled on many calendars.
The game featured the two best softball pitchers in the county
Fast-forward a year and both pitchers are still completely dominating their competition as they build on another year of experience before they head to college. Both girls have already committed to their schools of choice with Daugherty signing to play at Texas A&M earlier this school year and Doherty verballing to Cal Poly her freshman year. The two girls have already combined for five no-hitters this season,
The pitchers, the fans, the coaches and the media knew this was a big game as was obvious by the lack of parking spots available near the softball field Tuesday evening. However, the pitchers’ duel came out a little one-sided as the Hounds found their offense early and often winning 7-0.
Atascadero scored runs in each of the first three innings and was led by senior shortstop Bailee Crawford who had an elite day at the plate. Atascadero scored their first run after Claire Lohayza drew a leadoff walk and stole her way to third base. Riley Jones drew another walk and baited the Eagles catcher to throw to second on a double steal allowing Lohayza to come in for the game’s first run. Crawford stepped into the box next and hit a two-out RBI single to centerfield to give the Hounds a 2-0 lead, which as it turned out was more than they would need.
While Daugherty had her first off day of the season, Doherty had perhaps her best. The future Mustang didn’t allow a single base runner until she issued a fourth-inning walk at which point she already had eight strikeouts.
The Hounds opened the game playing small ball but closed the door with the power game. Atascadero hit two home runs off of Templeton’s flamethrower, the first coming in the top of the third inning when Doherty smashed a towering hit to left field (video available below). Doherty glided into home plate with her arms outstretched like a Boeing 747 and was greeted by every single one of her teammates.
“It felt super good I was due, honestly,” Doherty said. “I had one in the preseason and I just went up there thinking that I was going to get a base hit and do this for my team and then I just hit a home run and was like well shoot that is even better.”
The final home run came in the top of the seventh inning on Crawford’s fourth hit of the evening. Crawford hit a long fly ball that danced in the wind just a little before finally falling behind the wall. She was mobbed at home plate and even began to cry tears of joy as she entered the dugout with her teammates all around her.
The Hounds were prepared
“We knew what we were up against because everyone knows what she [Ashley Daugherty] does. So we played in a tournament last weekend and got a lot of at-bats in and here we just worked on short quick swings,” Atascadero head coach Darin Traverso said. “She throws so hard that you just have to make contact and hitting, like anything else you know, is so contagious so once a couple of our girls got a
Atascadero’s Doherty finished with 17 strikeouts, one hit, one walk
While the Eagles did bring back their star this season in Daugherty they have a young team with only three seniors and eight freshmen on the roster. They are prone to making young mistakes and often rely heavily on their golden arm but will only continue to improve as the season progresses. They are 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the Mountain League with a giant red circle around April 11 when they play the Hounds again.
Atascadero is now 3-0 in league play and 9-5 overall as they look to continue to dominate as they did a year ago.