ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Greyhounds and Paso Robles Bearcats softball teams met Tuesday in a battle for sole possession of first place in the PAC 8. Both teams entered the game undefeated in league and after the dust settled it was the Greyhounds who emerged victoriously and are now riding a seven-game winning streak and a tidal wave of confidence.
“It does a lot for our confidence,” Atascadero designated hitter Katie Perry said after the game. “Because both our teams were undefeated and Paso is Atascadero’s rival. So, as we came out and scored six runs on them and put the pressure on them to fight back, and they didn't, that really boosts us and gives us confidence that we can conquer anything.”
It was truly a matchup of strength versus strength — the Bearcats had their left-handed ace on the mound in Alyssa Valle to face off against Atascadero’s sophomore standout Bailey Doherty. Both teams have been riding their aces this year while they wait for their bats to awake, and it seems Atascadero has finally found their stride as they sprinkled eight hits around the yard and forced the Bearcats to use three pitchers.
Doherty continued her excellent pitching, even while doing so with an injury that might keep most athletes out of their respective sports.
“It started out with a rib out of place,” Doherty said regarding how the day went. “And I just struggled through it and I had help behind me and I really trusted them. What I love about softball is that you always have someone behind you, whether you are having a bad day or not.”
The Hounds did most of their damage in the bottom of the second inning when they scored four runs, two of which came on an excellent squeeze bunt by Perry.
The squeeze bunt brought in Shelby Moody and Bailey Crawford and did so without surrendering an out. Taylor Herzig later added another RBI and those four runs were more than enough of a cushion to allow Doherty to pitch relatively stress-free. Atascadero won the game 6-2.
The Bearcats added a single run in the top of the fourth inning and the fifth inning, but each time the Hounds answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
Coming into the game on Tuesday the Bearcats had only allowed a single run in PAC 8 play and this loss now drops them into second place and ties them with the San Luis Obispo Tigers, who they play on Friday.
The Greyhounds have now begun to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. They have scored the most runs in the PAC 8 while also allowing the fewest and will take on Pioneer Valley on Friday.