Green Valley pitcher Abigail Cordova lives and dies by the change-up, so her game plan was no surprise to Foothill on Tuesday.
Even so, Falcons hitters looked off-balance all afternoon, allowing the visiting Gators to ride a seventh-inning rally to a 4-2 victory in opening-round play of the Sunrise Region softball tournament.
Cordova went the distance, scattering nine hits and striking out four.
“(Cordova) has one of the most amazing change-ups I’ve ever seen,” Green Valley coach Cyndi Castro said. “When she has command of it, it’s lights-out on the mound.”
The victory kept the Gators (20-12) in the winners’ bracket, where they will visit Coronado (24-8) at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Foothill (16-17) fell into the losers’ bracket and will host Eldorado (12-19) at 4 p.m.
Though her offense scored a run in the top of the first inning on a bloop single by Savannah Fabro, Cordova did not have command in the bottom of the inning. She walked the first three Falcons she faced, and was forced to work out of the jam with the help of a double play that featured a Foothill runner being thrown out at the plate.
The 1-0 lead held for the next five innings.
“That first-inning run was huge for us,” Castro said. “Getting that first-inning run is always big against Foothill.”
Cordova’s change-ups began finding the strike zone in the second inning. By scattering occasional fastballs, mostly out of the strike zone, she limited the Falcons to bloop singles until the sixth.
Zoe Vandeveer became the momentary hero for Foothill in the inning, driving a two-out double to the left-field warning track and giving her team a 2-1 lead.
“My teammates are my biggest supporters,” Cordova said. “They pumped me up today, and I didn’t want to let them down.”
Foothill pitcher Leah Becker grazed the first Gator she faced with a pitch to open the seventh, and that was just what Green Valley needed. Tyre Hilton tied it with an RBI double, and Katrina Ramos and Fabro had RBI singles to give Green Valley a 4-2 lead.
Foothill made it interesting with three hits in the seventh, but another runner was thrown out at the plate. With runners on second and third, Cordova got Jocelyn Shupp to pop out on a change-up to end the game.
Ramos and Fabro each went 2-for-4 to lead the Gators’ offense.
Skylar Glaude went 2-for-3 to lead Foothill, and teammate Shannon Ward went 2-for-4.
Liberty 9, Rancho 2 — At Liberty, Shelby Carvalho went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs as the Patriots downed the Rams.
Jasmine Gonzales was 2-for-3 with two RBIs for the Patriots (21-7), and Soraya Seumalo threw a complete game.
Libetry will play at Basic (21-10) on Wednesday.
Liliana Gutierrez was 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Rams (18-16), who will host Silverado (12-17) in an elimination game.
Basic 12, Silverado 4 — At Basic, Mikayla Berg was 3-for-3 with a home run, a double, two runs and four RBIs, and the Wolves used a seven-run fifth inning to top the Skyhawks.
Angela Santillanes was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, and Sanoe Helenihi was 1-for-3 with a home run, two runs and three RBIs for Basic. Alyssa Ferguson was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, and Adriana Cruz went 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Wolves.
Megan Johnson went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI for Silverado.
Coronado 15, Eldorado 0 — At Coronado, Tatum Spangler was 4-for-4 with a game-ending double, three runs and three RBIs as the Cougars routed the Sundevils in three innings.
Tori Jones was 2-for-2 with a triple, a double and four RBIs, and winning pitcher Ashley Ward went 2-for-3 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs for Coronado.
Ward and Cierra Sawyer combined to two-hit the Sundevils.