EPHRATA — Everybody has work to do at this point in the season, but for the local softball teams it was just nice to be playing on dirt that didn’t stick to the bottom of the cleats.
The defending 2A state champions didn’t take long to get back in the groove in Saturday’s season opener at Ephrata, sweeping the Tigers. Othello (2-0) won the first game 11-2 and came back to win the second 12-5.
The Huskies hit the ball well for early season. Third baseman and clean-up hitter Audisey Sauceda had a triple in the opener and added a double and triple in the afternoon game. Husky senior Mariah Deleon showed some power in the lead-off spot, going 2-for-4 with a double in the second game. Nikki Velazquez was also 2-4 in the afternoon game.
“I had to be patient because this pitcher didn’t throw very hard,” Sauceda said. “I do like to hit first-pitch, but today I wanted to see what she would do (later in the count). I thought we played really good today. I like our infield and our offense did great. I thought we stayed focused for our first game of the season.”
The young Tigers (0-2) played well in spots, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth and three more in the fifth to close the gap to 8-5. Katie Davis had an RBI double in the fifth and Brooke Bazaldua drove in a run that inning as well. They also left two runners in the sixth, so they had their chances.
“This is the best we’ve ever played Othello. I don’t think we’ve ever gone seven innings with them. So two games, going seven innings was pretty good,” Ephrata coach Heather Wood said. “We hit the ball well today. There’s always room for improvement, but it was definitely a lot better than I thought for this early.”
The Husky defense was nails, turning three double plays. Second baseman Janissa Garza and shortstop Malayah Sauceda worked well together in the middle infield, turning a couple of double plays.
Deleon threw out a runner trying to steal. They were solid with the little things, working on playing fundamentally sound as they chase a new title.
“We were a little nervous because it was the first game, but I thought the defense was good,” said Deleon, who caught both games. “Our pitchers hit their spots pretty well today. Ephrata started figuring them out, but overall they were good.”
Othello coach Rudy Ochoa was recently named the 2A state coach of the year for guiding the 2016 team to the state championship. It’s a new season, same goal, he said.
“I was happy with the way our freshman, Alyssa Nunez, threw today,” Ochoa said. “She has a lot of experience, she’s been pitching since she was nine. So she has a lot of experience and can help us down the road. Overall, I thought we played well for as early as it is.” Othello travels to Richland on Friday. Ephrata hosts Cascade, 4 p.m., Tuesday.