COSTA MESA, CA – Hope International traveled to Vanguard on Tuesday, May 2 for the 2017 GSAC Softball Tournament and opened the tourney with a game against the fifth-seeded San Diego Christian Hawks. HIU won the rematch of the 2016 opening game with a shutout tossed by GSAC Player of Year Alejandra Guillen (SR/Downey, CA) and some big hits in the sixth.
Both teams pitched their aces to start the tourney and got good results for the first five innings. The Royals and Hawks sped through the opening five frames of the game and combined for seven stranded runners after the first five scoreless frames.
Guillen held SDC off the board once again in the top of the sixth and finally got the run support from her teammates in the bottom half of the inning after Justice Walker (JR/Huntington Beach, CA) led off with a triple up the alley in right center field.
Crystal Cano (SR/Norwalk, CA) laced a soft single into the gap between first and second base, and after a sacrifice bunt from Tori Franks (JR/Mesa, AZ) Cano came in to score on a double off the wall in left field hit by Cynthia Martinez (SR/Montebello, CA). Martinez was lifted for Alexza Sanchez (FR/Escondido, CA) on the bag and Sanchez came in to score after Jocelyn Young (SR/Reno, NV) followed Martinez with a double to the exact same spot for the 3-0 lead.
Guillen allowed two runners to the Hawks after a leadoff error and a single to right field put two aboard for SDC, but Guillen pitched around the runners and stranded both to clinch the shutout win. Guillen struck out two Hawks including the final batter for SDC to close the game with her 15th win of the season, matching Franks' season tally for the team lead.
Guillen also remained perfect against the Hawks this year with her third win in as many outings against SDC – this season, Guillen has thrown 19 innings in three complete games with two shutout wins and only one run allowed to SDC for an ERA of 0.37.
"Kendra [for SDC] is a really good pitcher and was shutting us down a little bit," Coach Dennis Blas said after opening the tourney. "Right before Justice's at-bat in the sixth I called her and Crystal [Cano] over and said, 'get on base and we win this game,' Justice clutches up with a triple, and Crystal gets a little blooper, and we get two bombs…Ale did what the GSAC Player of the Year should do, a 2-3 outing and a shutout."
The Royals picked up their 30th win of the 2017 season after felling the Hawks – the 30 wins are most in program history, two more than the previous program best of 28. They improve to 30-15 in 2017 and will face No. 1-seeded Vanguard later this afternoon at 4:15 pm.