Third time’s a charm as Clovis meets Buchanan in softball final

Photo by Nick Baker
Clovis sophomore pitcher Danielle Lung, who is 22-3 on the season, pitched a gem against Clovis East in the D-1 semi-final game with 15 strikeouts and two hits in the 4-0 win.

By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
paulmeadors@gmail.com
@paulmeadors

And so we meet again.

The script was written long before the final game even started – the No. 1 seeded Buchanan Bears versus the No. 2 defending Central Section champion Clovis Cougars. And true to form, both teams – with some serious similarities – found their way to duke it out for Valley supremacy.

First of all, there are the records – Buchanan is 25-5, Clovis 24-5. Second, they split both league games 1-0. And third, they got themselves some mighty powerful pitchers.

And throughout the playoffs, there was little doubt who the top two teams in D-1 were.

Photo by Nick Baker Another sophomore makes a splash in the TRAC, Buchanan's Molly Millar. The pitcher is 17-2 on the season and led the Bears to a TRAC title and berth in the Valley title game against defending champion Clovis.
Photo by Nick Baker
Another sophomore makes a splash in the TRAC, Buchanan’s Molly Millar. The pitcher is 17-2 on the season and led the Bears to a TRAC title and berth in the Valley title game against defending champion Clovis.

Buchanan and pitcher Molly Millar bulldozed their way through Liberty-Bakersfield 11-1 and Stockdale 8-2.

Clovis and pitcher Danielle Lung tore through Hanford West 7-3 and Clovis East 4-0.

Oh yeah, and both pitchers are only sophomores. And both are very familiar with each other, each on the winning and losing end of those 1-0 games. They go back to battling during their junior high days – Lung at Clark Intermediate School and Millar at Alta Sierra.

Buchanan coach Dean Gregory says it’s Millar’s consistency that’s been most impressive and “gives us a great opportunity to win each game out.”

Lung was impressive in her shutout against Clovis East, battling a temperature of 102 during the game, and sizzling on the mound in her 15 strikeouts.

“I did it for my teammates,” said Lung, who threw a no-hitter as a freshman in last year’s 2-0 Valley championship game against Central. “They’ve been working hard so I wanted to do it for them.”

“She definitely leads us with her right arm,” said head coach Mike Noel about the Fresno State commit.

But, Clovis is not all Lung (and her spectacular 22-3 record, 1.00 ERA with 268 Ks in 168 innings), as the Cougars mix it up with sophomores Jordyn Martinez, Tori Mueller and Emily Puente and veteran seniors Taylor Tiger and Alyssa Caballero.

Photo by Nick Baker Another Clovis sophomore, shortstop Tori Mueller, takes a hack against Clovis East. The Cougars went on to meet No. 1 seed Buchanan in the championship game played on May 28.
Photo by Nick Baker
Another Clovis sophomore, shortstop Tori Mueller, takes a hack against Clovis East. The Cougars went on to meet No. 1 seed Buchanan in the championship game played on May 28.

And let’s not forget Mackenzie Byrd, the sweet-swinging left hander who belted her first home run of the season against Clovis East in the bottom of the sixth inning, increasing the lead to 4-0.

And mirroring Clovis, Buchanan’s not all Millar (and her sparkling 17-2 record 1.66 ERA, 152 K), as they feature a strong senior class in Faith Rousey, Sienna Swain, Spencer Sansom and Starr Vang and juniors Katie Jackson and Katie January.

“I think the thing that makes our offense so tough is that any and everyone in the lineup is capable of getting the big hit,” said Buchanan coach Dean Gregory. “There have been games where the top of our lineup has put up big numbers but likewise the bottom of our lineup has done the same. There is no easy out.”

In fact, Rousey went a combined 5-7, with two doubles, three runs scored and 7 RBI in the two playoff wins before the championship game.

Buchanan is seeking their sixth Valley title and first since 2009. Clovis has eight total, including six under the tutelage of Noel.

“I think it’s going to be a great game – two great pitchers and two great teams,” said Noel. “It’s going to be an old school softball game.”

The championship game was played on May 28 at Margie Wright Diamond at Fresno State.