Not long ago, the top Southwest League softball teams marched into Bishop Gorman and came away with relatively easy victories. The Gaels struck no fear into the hearts of opposing players.
That has drastically changed this season, and it showed Monday.
Dayton Yingling pitched a three-hitter, and the Gaels took sole possession of the Southwest lead with a 10-1 home rout of defending league champion Durango.
"We finally have kids coming in with softball experience," Gorman coach Kevin Smith said. "This year, we're able to put kids out there who have played softball sometime in their past. We've never been able to do that before."
Gorman (10-3-1, 3-0 Southwest) made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years last season, finishing 8-8 in the Southwest, but was eliminated early.
It made this year's team hungrier.
"It started in intramurals," Smith said. "These girls came in here and wanted to take it to the next level."
Gorman took the lead for good on No. 3 hitter Miranda Robles' suicide squeeze bunt in the first inning. The Gaels scored twice in each of the first two innings and four times in the fourth.
Five Gaels had at least two hits, with leadoff hitter Shelby Estocado going 2-for-2 with a home run, three RBIs, two walks and four runs. Bailey Zavala and Carrie Keller had three hits, Machenzie Tucky two, and Yingling helped herself by going 2-for-4 with a two-run triple.
"It was a great team win," Smith said.
Yingling, though, didn't need much offensive support. After Durango's Kendall Short struck out but reached base on a wild pitch to start the game, Yingling retired the next 10 Trailblazers.
Katie Moore ended the streak with a solo homer, and Mindy Larson followed with a single before Yingling settled down to retire 10 of the next 11 hitters. She finished with eight strikeouts and didn't allow a walk as Durango (5-6, 2-1) had only four baserunners.
"The last three games she has thrown, she hasn't had a walk," Smith said. "She has a lot of good movement on all her pitches. That trickles down to the rest of the team.
"We have a little hop out there."
Contact reporter Bartt Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5230.