BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
Garces softball coach Mike D'Amato was concerned that his team might be a little bit rusty after 12 days off for Easter Break.
Instead the Rams picked up right where they left off before the break and continued their dominance of the Southeast Yosemite League with a 6-0 victory over Tehachapi Wednesday at Brannon Field.
Sophomore Renee Ramirez hurled her fourth shutout of the season and also had two hits and an RBI to help Garces remain undefeated in league play.
The win puts the Rams (17-12, 5-0 SEYL) one game ahead of the second-place Warriors (13-10-1, 4-1 SEYL) at the halfway mark of the SEYL season.
Garces has outscored its SEYL opponents by an average of 10-1.
"We have an amazing bunch of girls that are just really coming together," D'Amato said. "My biggest fear was that we didn't play over Easter break. Usually we do and we didn't this year...We had a good workout on Monday and a good workout on Tuesday but you never know how they're going to play (today) our first game back."
The Rams wasted little time jumping all over Tehachapi, scoring five runs in the second inning and one more in the third.
Bree Bonkosky led off the second inning with a double and then later scored on an error, giving the Rams a 1-0 lead.
Tehachapi pitcher Mariah Godde almost got out of the inning without any more damage. But with two outs Jenna Gorman drilled a clutch RBI single and then Racheal Metzger followed with a RBI double to make it 3-0.
Two batters later Tyler Hughes extended the Rams' advantage to 5-0, with a 2-run bloop single.
That was more than enough of a lead for Ramirez, a first year varsity player, who pitched like a seasoned veteran.
Ramirez, allowed six hits, all singles, issued one walk and hit a batter while striking out five.
"I thought I did pretty well," Ramirez said. "I trusted my defense behind me."
The young right-hander never lost her poise despite getting into a couple of early jams.
Tehachapi best chance to score against her came in the fourth inning when Michaela Peters was thrown out at the plate by Garces centerfielder Haley Witt.
After hitting a two-out line drive single to reach first, Peters moved to second on Hannah Grimes' infield single. Katheryn Freidt followed with another base that sent Peters racing around third before she was tagged out just up the line on a strong throw from Witt.
"It's pretty disappointing every time we lose to Garces," Tehachapi coach Tracy Goodell said. "...We played defensively sound. Our bats just didn't come alive too many at one time."
Metzger, who came into the day ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the SEYL in home runs, runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and on base percentage and No. 4 in batting average, went 1 for 1 and reached base all four times she came to the plate.
Metzger's last two at bats Tehachapi appeared to pitch around her, issuing her a five-pitch walk and a four-pitch walk.
Naize Ubay joined Ramirez as the only Garces players to register more than one hit.
The Rams had 18 batter reach safely on nine hits, five walks, three hit batters, and one Tehachapi error.
"It was a team effort," Metzger said. "They didn't really pitch to me so it's good to see everyone backing everyone up."
D'Amato was equally pleased with the Rams performance.
"Today we played really well," he said. "Renee through well on the mound and the girls really backed her up defensively."