by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
COALINGA – A struggling Taft College softball team was on the verge of ending a frustrating season on a high note here Tuesday but a late-inning collapse ruined it.
Alexandra Benevidez and Keana Ratcliff-Hogan both slugged two-run homeruns to give the Cougars a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.
After host West Hills College got three hits to score its first run, the Falcons tied the game in the seventh by combining an infield error, two bunt singles, an RBI hit, a bases loaded walk and a sacrifice fly.
After retiring the Cougars in order in the top of the eighth, West Hills loaded the bases on a single and two walks and got a walk-off hit by shortstop Ashley Brown to spoil TC's bid for a season-ending win.
Benevidez hammered her dinger over the left field fence in the second inning after Sonya Lawrence socked a one-out double.
Hogan made it 4-0 in the fourth when she belted a pitch over centerfield fence after Payton Spragling, who had three hits for the Cougars, poked a two-out single.
Halle Neher had two singles for the Cougars and Kelsey Wilmer one.
Neher and Benevidez each had a stolen base and the Cougar defense turned a double play.
Cheyenne Gutierrez went the distance in the circle for the Cougars. She gave up four earned runs on 11 hits and walked three. The lone unearned run came in the seventh when the Falcons tied the game.
It was a resurrection season for the Cougars. The college was forced to drop the sport last year due to a lack of players.TC finished with a 3-15 record in the Central Valley Conference and 3-24 overall.