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CHARGER INVITE: ‘Confident’ Gators win twice on opening day of tourney

Coming off a respectable showing at the Faster to First Tournament in Huntington Beach, Calif., Green Valley brought plenty of confidence into the Charger Invitational, which began Monday at West Flamingo Park.
The Gators, who played three nationally-ranked teams on their way to a 2-3 record last weekend, certainly know now that if they play their type of game, good things can happen.
Green Valley was one of only two local teams that won both of its games in pool play Monday — an 11-1 victory over Birmingham (Calif.) and an 8-1 decision over Point Loma (Calif.).
Durango scored 30 runs in its two games to go undefeated after the opening day. Liberty also won two games but only one in pool play.
From their perspective, the Gators relied heavily on the experience gained from the trip to California.
“We gained plenty of confidence from the California trip,” Green Valley coach Lauren Taylor said. “We wanted to use that confidence and make a good showing in this tournament. We haven’t fared as well here as we would have like, so playing well here is important to us.”
The Gators certainly finished the day in style, as Valley transfer Desiree Laswell stopped Point Loma on two hits. Green Valley took control of the game from the outset, scoring seven runs in the first three innings.
Ali Bodnar’s two-run homer in a three-run Green Valley first inning set the tone, and the Gators cruised.
“If we play with our heads on straight, we are as good as anybody,” Taylor said. “We just need to continue to improve each game.
Having Desiree adds depth to our pitching staff, and that certainly can go a long way down the stretch of the season.”
Bodnar, Shelby Vickers and Chelsey Anderson had two hits each for the Gators, and Alicia Firelein added a solo home run.
Green Valley 11, Birmingham (Calif.) 1 — Laswell’s third-inning grand slam sparked the Gators, who scored six runs in the third and five more in the fourth to rout Birmingham.
Bodnar went 3-for-3 for the Gators.
Durango 19, Kearny (Calif.) 0 — The Trailblazers scored nine runs in the first and never looked back in the four-inning rout.
Sam Juarez led Durango’s 14-hit attack with a pair of home runs and six RBIs. Nicole Herrera added four RBIs, and Jaexie Balilea and Mindy Larson drove in two each.
Durango 11, Granada Hills (Calif.) 6 — Marley Sandoval, Juarez and Balilea each homered in a seven-run seventh inning to lift the Trailblazers past Granada Hills.
Juarez went 2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBIs. Katie Moore was 3-for-4 with two triples, and Larson went 3-for-4 for Durango.
Liberty 4, El Capitan (Calif.) 3 — Amber Ruccia scored the game winning run in the seventh as the Patriots won their second close game of the day.
El Capitan had a great chance in the home half of the seventh, loading the bases with only one out. But reliever Breanna English forced an infield out and a groundout to preserve the victory.
English had a two-run homer in the first for the Patriots, which won despite having only two hits.
Liberty 6, Valley 4 — English’s fourth-inning grand slam lifted the Patriots past Valley.
English also had a double for the Patriots, who held off a late rally by the Vikings.
Zoe Galindo smashed a home run for Valley.
Valley 6, Banning (Calif.) 4 — Jasmin Villamar went 3-for-4 with a triple, a double, two runs and an RBI to help the Vikings turn back Banning.
Galindo went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Mickayla Romero was 1-for-3  with a two-run homer for Valley.
Mar Vista (Calif.) 13, Valley 11 — Romero and Nicholette Corona each homered for Valley, which battled back from an 8-0 second-inning defcit to take an 11-8 lead before falling to Mar Vista.
Las Vegas 7, Lincoln (Calif.) 6 — The Wildcats scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to edge Lincoln.
Ashly Westgarth went 4-for-4 for Las Vegas, which used a four-run sixth to tie the game at 5-5.
Madison (Calif.) 7, Las Vegas 5 — Nicole Clites hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning but Las Vegas dropped its first game of the tournament.
Chelsey Lewis had three hits for the Wildcats including a triple, and Denise Gutierrez added two. Erin Gliddon drove in a pair of RBIs for Las Vegas.
Desert Oasis 11, Mar Vista (Calif.) 0 — C.J. Wilson tossed a two-hitter as the Diamondbacks cruised past Mar Vista.
Morgan Hughes doubled and drove in two runs for Desert Oasis, which used a six-run fourth inning to put the game out of reach.
Carson (Calif.) 10, Desert Oasis 1 — Desert Oasis only managed one hit — a first-inning single by Emily Heinz — in a loss to Carson.
Vista (Calif.) 8, Desert Oasis 3 — Heinz homered, but the Diamondbacks had only two other hits in a loss to Vista.
Mira Mesa (Calif.) 3, Cimarron-Memorial 2 — Mira Mesa scratched across a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to edge the Spartans.
Andrea Bishop went 2-for-3 and scored a run for Cimarron.
Carrie Sheehan tossed a five-hitter for the Spartans.
Chatsworth (Calif.) 4, Cimarron-Memorial 3 — Chatsworth scored three runs in the opening inning to defeat Cimarron.
Sheehan allowed seven hits, but only three of them after the first inning.
Nora Murphy led the Cimarron offense with a triple and a double. Starlyn Thomas added a pair of hits for the Spartans.
Ursuline (Calif.) 1, Clark 0 —  Hailey Eisenhauer slapped a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth as Ursuline earned the win.
The game was a pitching duel between Clark’s Julia Hagen and Ursuline’s Haily MacDonald. MacDonald scattered four hits and struck out seven. She finished the game in strong fashion, retiring 11 of the final 12 batters she faced.
Hagen allowed five hits and fanned two. She yielded one hit after the third inning — Eisenhauer’s game-winning home run.
Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) 7, Clark 5 — Cathedral Catholic scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a 5-5 tie and held on to beat the Chargers.
Kaitlyn Szeles hit a solo home run for Clark. Jasmine Fukuda went 2-for-5 and scored a run for the Chargers.

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