Forty-five minutes before Friday’s game, Rancho softball coach Amanda Zunno settled on freshman Kayla Coles as her starting pitcher.
Not long before game time, Zunno had a change of heart and put the ball in the right hand of Brandy Marlett.
It turned out to be a great decision.
Marlett tossed a six-hitter and struck out six to help the Rams stun visiting Arbor View, 5-4.
“I talked with all my pitchers before the game about what we have coming up, and we just made the choice that we thought was best for the team,” Zunno said.
With the Rams (7-3) playing their 10th game in nine days, their usual one-two punch in the circle — Aly Lamboo and Marlett — were in need of rest.
When Marlett asked who should warm up pitching, Zunno’s answer was Coles, and Marlett replied,
“That’s a good choice.”
But Marlett, a junior, looked anything but tired, holding the Aggies to 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
She threw 103 pitches, 73 for strikes.
“Her command on her pitches was right on,” Zunno said. “She knew with runners on where she needed to place the ball.”
Arbor View (4-2) had runners at second and third with no outs in the first and fifth innings and didn’t score either time.
Rancho scored an unearned run in the fourth, and RBI singles by Jacey Kelley, Lamboo and McKinzi Vega keyed a four-run fifth that put the Rams up 5-0.
The Aggies finally scored on a one-out RBI hit by Ke’Anna Kamaka in the sixth but left runners at second and third. Arbor View then scored three in the seventh before Marlett got two bases-empty groundouts to end the game.
“This lets the girls know that the hard work they’ve been doing on and off the field is paying off,” Zunno said.
Kelley was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Karli Lehr was 3-for-4 with two runs for Arbor View.