As the last batter for Rancho’s softball team stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning, Coronado coach Melissa Krueger urged her infielders to be ready.
But the way Cougars pitcher Tatum Spangler was throwing Thursday, her teammates barely needed their gloves.
Spangler struck out 18 and outdueled Rancho’s Sam Pochop in a 5-1 victory that kept the visiting Cougars undefeated in the Class 4A Sunrise League.
“I was thinking about it all day, and I wanted this game so bad because of last year and them (eliminating) us out of the playoffs,” Spangler said. “I just felt like everything was on. It was just my day, I don’t know.”
Spangler, a junior left-hander who has given an oral commitment to Kentucky, allowed two hits. She struck out the first seven batters and fanned the side in the first, second, third, fourth and seventh innings.
Spangler also went 2-for-2 with a triple and a run scored for No. 2 Coronado (10-5, 4-0 Sunrise League).
“I’m happy for her because she’s the hardest worker,” Krueger said. “For her to get this kind of success in a game like this, it’s her hard work paying off. I couldn’t be more proud of the kid.”
Coronado broke through in the top of the third on Taylor Okamura’s run-scoring single off Pochop’s glove and then erupted for four runs in the top of the fifth.
Dylan Underwood scored on a wild pitch before Ashley Ward’s two-run triple to deep center. Ward scored on a passed ball to give Coronado a 5-0 lead.
“We’ve been working really hard in our tournaments the last couple weekends, and we’ve seen some really good pitchers,” Krueger said. “We felt like we were preparing ourselves for a game like this and for a tight game.”
Pochop, a Tulsa recruit, had a run-scoring single in the fifth for third-ranked Rancho (7-4, 5-1), the defending region champion.
“It’s huge to have us be working as a team to build that confidence and build that relationship so that we know we can do it later on in the season,” Spangler said. “I’m just super proud of our team. To beat them, it was just really good to see.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.