Angilau hits walk-off home run for PC 4-3 Sophomore Day win
Kuea Angilau was in a slump and things weren’t looking pretty for the Porterville College freshman.
The best hitter on the softball team with a .475 batting average and .600 on-base percentage was 0-for-4 through six innings and the Pirates (24-15, 12-9 CVC) were in need of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning of Thursday’s Central Valley Conference game against West Hills Coalinga at home.
Playing the final game of the regular season for Sophomore Day, the Pirates needed runs to either extend the game into extra innings or win it all right then and there.
“One more out, that’s all we need,” called out a WHC supporter when Angilau came to the plate with the Falcons (6-23, 5-16 CVC) up 3-2, with two outs and PC’s Raquel Gonzalez on second.
Angilau held off on the first pitch which was called a ball, but on the second, she came through and whacked the ball over the Pirates’ 200-foot fence for a walk-off two-run home run and the 4-3 win. Porterville’s players and fans erupted as Angilau rounded the bases and slapped high-fives with her coaches, Gracie Steidley at first and Vickie Dugan at third.
“I just knew that my team had me and when I needed to come through I would come through,” Angilau said about the at-bat. She is second in the state with 13 home runs on the season.
After giving up three runs to West Hills in the top of the first inning, Porterville was playing catch up all game. Defensively the team played solid behind starting pitcher, sophomore Ashley Eyraud, who gave up three runs on seven hits and two strikeouts, but offensively their bats were quiet.
“Our bats were just flat,” Dugan, PC’s head coach, said. “We just didn’t hit well.”
The Pirates loaded the bases in four different innings and had runners in scoring position in all of the previous six innings ,but only managed to bring in two runs. The first came in the bottom of the first when freshman Annisa Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Gonzalez. Sophomore Alexis LaFarga brought in sophomore Shantae Gutierrez for the second run in the fifth on another sacrifice fly.
But Angilau, who hit third, was struggling and her frustation with going hitless showed after each at bat. However, the team believed in Angilau and she believed in herself.
“We just didn’t have the type of swings we normally have,” Dugan said. “Lucky for that last one, cause Kiki had been flat up until that [one]. She had the one hit to left field that almost took the girl’s glove off but she caught it. So she was due. And I just went up to her right before her at-bat and I said, ‘This is the person we want up right now. You’re the person that we want to be hitting. You’re the one that can do it. Just do what you do.’ And she came through.”
Although Angilau had her struggles at the plate Thursday, one of the biggest questions everyone had was why didn’t West Hills just walk her? Apparently, they wanted too.
“You know the coach came out and said to walk her, so I don’t know what happened there,” Dugan said. “Some type of miscommunication between the pitcher, the catcher and the coach. So even the coach said, ‘You were supposed to walk her.’”
Also for Porterville, Gomez went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI while Shantae Gutierrez was 2-for-4 with a run scored. Gonzalez finished with two runs scored and reached on three walks and a hit by pitch in five plate appearances.
With the team’s playoff chances still up in the air until the seeding meeting on Saturday, April 27, the win was sweet for the Pirates to get with their sophomores for Sophomore Day. For Angilau, being able to bring in the winning runs was like a tribute to her sophomores.
“I feel like it was me saying my final thank you to all my sophomores,” Angilau said.
Of the team’s seven sophomores, two are looking at continuing their softball careers at the next level. Gonzalez received offers from NCAA Division III programs Berea College in Kentucky and Crown College in Minnesota, as well as Kansas’ Bethany College in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Chelsea Ramos, who suffered an ankle injury but was the team’s top hitter with a .509 batting average, 1.073 slugging percentage with 20 RBIs and five home runs, also has collegiate interest. She is looking at NCAA Division I Utah Valley State and University of California, Santa Barbara and Division II California State University, Sonoma.
Regardless of where the sophomores go, Dugan said they will be missed.
“A great group of sophomores,” Dugan said. “They were good mentors for the freshmen. They improved so much from freshman to sophomore year, both in their physical ability, their emotional ability, how they’re doing in school, their leadership and mentorship. All improved. We’re going to miss them.”