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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Evan HolmesIn her second start in two days, senior pitcher Ellie Clay pitched a complete game against Belle, including 10 strikeouts.

The California High School Lady Pintos softball team got off to a rocky start to the season, losing four of its first games all by one run. The Lady Pintos came into last Tuesday night’s matchup against Belle High School looking to get back to winning ways. They did that and more with their 10-3 victory against the Lady Tigers.

California quickly took the lead in the first inning and never looked back. The Lady Pintos scored a season-high five runs in the first inning on five hits. Their explosive batting caused the Lady Tigers to make a pitching change with only one out in the first inning. By the fourth inning, California was firmly in command with a 7-0 lead.

Despite the Lady Tigers coming back to cut the lead to 7-3 in the sixth inning, the Lady Pintos added three more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth and secured their victory in a scoreless top of the seventh. The victory by the Lady Pintos marked their seventh straight victory against Belle High School since 2017. During their winning streak, California has outscored Belle 87-9.

“The first pitcher they had threw it at off-speed and we adjusted well. We put the bat on the ball well and put a big first inning,” Lady Pintos head coach Steven Stock said. “I was proud that we won the second inning, then the third inning, and so on. And then again in the fifth after a goose egg in the fourth. But just good at-bats.”

In addition to their superb hitting, the Lady Pintos received a strong pitching performance from senior pitcher Ellie Clay, who pitched for the second straight game after having only a one-day rest between starts.

“She’s a warrior and we’ve got to continue to improve with her and get her some confidence, and there’s nothing like getting a win to build your confidence,” Stock said.

With every one of their games this season having been decided by one run entering last Tuesday night, the Lady Pintos found a way to put the mental disappointment of those defeats behind them and gave their home fans a lot to cheer about.

“Any time you get a one-run game, you can point to this or that and it could be a different outcome for both wins and losses,” Stock said. “You need to learn to win those games, and that’s one of the things we did tonight. They started to get a little momentum and we were able to shut it down, and that will be something we can build on.”

With their victory over Belle High School, California’s record improved to 2-4. Stock and his Lady Pintos were unable to continue their win streak against Russellville last Thursday as they fell 6-1, but have a multitude of chances to right their early-season woes in the coming week. They faced Eldon at home Tuesday and will next turn their sights to a clash at Iberia Thursday.

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