Rancho softball coach Amanda Zunno did her best to give all-state pitcher Sam Pochop a rest Thursday.
But with Las Vegas threatening in the bottom of the seventh inning, Zunno was forced to go to her ace.
Pochop came on for a one-out save, and Rancho withstood a late power surge from the Wildcats to claim a 6-5 road victory.
“I had faith in my girls,” Zunno said. “We’ve been working all season in tough games and close competition, and to come out with the win just feels really good.”
Freshman pitcher MacKenzie Perry was solid through the first five innings for the Rams (13-7, 8-2 Sunrise League), but gave up a two-run homer to Angelina Visitacion in the sixth that cut Rancho’s lead to 6-3.
Perry retired the first two batters in the seventh before allowing a single to Melina Fabian and a two-run homer by Skyler Gorrell.
That’s when Pochop entered, and after Arienn Ackerman’s bunt single, the Tulsa-bound right-hander struck out Visitacion to end the game.
Perry went 6 2/3 innings and was charged with all five runs to go with six strikeouts.
“Coming in as a freshman and being on varsity and getting that spotlight with the ball is something she wanted,” Zunno said. “We had faith in her, and as long as she hit her spots, our defense was going to be there for her.”
Ackerman was 3-for-4 for Las Vegas (7-4, 7-4), which finished with 14 hits.
Gianna Carosone put the Rams ahead in the first with a two-run double, and Ayanna Potter and Perry added run-scoring singles in the second for a 4-0 lead.
Potter made it 5-0 when she scored on a double steal in the fourth, and Yvette Sanchez squeezed home Carosone for a 6-0 lead in the fifth.
“The girls did their jobs at the plate,” Zunno said. “They’re batting selflessly.”
Carosone was 2-for-4 and Kaitlyn Suarez 2-for-3 to lead Rancho.
“Being on a five-game winning streak, it definitely helps the team morale,” Zunno said. “It takes a little pressure off of us because we’re not fighting back from losses all the time.”
Contact David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.