The Balers celebrate after scoring a run against Salinas last Tuesday. San Benito, which is currently competing at a tournament in Las Vegas, is ranked No. 8 in the nation by MaxPreps.
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The San Benito High softball team is living up to its national
ranking, and then some. Initially scheduled to play Schurr High of
Montebello on Friday morning at the 2011 Spring Jamboree in Las
Vegas, the Balers, recently ranked No. 25 in the nation by ESPN
RISE, instead squared off against Edison High of Huntington Beach,
which also figured into the Powerade Fab 50 by ESPN RISE as well.
But powered by another Jessica Steigelman home run
— her fourth in three games at the Las Vegas tournament — San
Benito outlasted Edison 8-7 on Friday morning to finish with a 3-0
record through pool play.
HOLLISTER

The San Benito High softball team is living up to its national ranking, and then some.

Initially scheduled to play Schurr High of Montebello on Friday morning at the 2011 Spring Jamboree in Las Vegas, the Balers, recently ranked No. 25 in the nation by ESPN RISE, instead squared off against Edison High of Huntington Beach, which also figured into the Powerade Fab 50 by ESPN RISE as well.

But powered by another Jessica Steigelman home run — her fourth in three games at the Las Vegas tournament — San Benito outlasted Edison 8-7 on Friday morning to finish with a 3-0 record through pool play.

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The Balers, now 17-0 on the season, will face off against Jordan Long Beach to open the tournament’s double-elimination bracket on Friday. First pitch is 4 p.m.

National rankings may have figured into San Benito’s game against Edison, unfortunately. While the Balers are ranked No. 25 in the nation by ESPN RISE, the team was also recently ranked No. 1 in the Central Coast Section, No. 2 in the state and No. 8 nationally by MaxPreps.

San Benito manager Scott Smith felt his team was pressing a little bit as a result, trying to live up to its ranking.

“We didn’t play our best game,” Smith said. “But when it was all said and done … we played them tough. They were good.”

Edison, meanwhile, is ranked No. 5 in its section, No. 9 in the state and No. 23 nationally by Max Preps.

And getting past the Huntington Beach high school was no easy feat. Smith said Edison has six players who have already received Division I scholarship offers, including rides to Stanford, Cal, Northwestern, Northern Illinois and UCLA.

“They’re legit, too,” Smith added.

Still, the Balers jumped ahead at the start. With Samantha Puentes leading off the game with a wall-ball triple, San Benito took the initial lead behind a three-run homer from Steigelman. The senior first baseman hit three home runs in two games on Thursday, as San Benito defeated both Centennial and Pleasant Grove by matching 10-0 margins during the tournament’s first day.

Edison got one run back in the home half of the first to cut into San Benito’s lead, but the Balers responded in the third with three more runs to grab a 6-1 cushion.

Brittany Hoff and Jessica Vest, each of whom homered on Thursday as well, singled on in the third inning before Nicole Rianda chased them both home with a hit of her own. Marissa Adame then connected on a fielder’s choice ground out that scored the Balers’ third run of the inning.

But again, Edison responded, this time erasing the deficit completely. Two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth knotted the game at 6-all, which is where it stood between the two schools entering the final inning.

But in the seventh, Brittani Newman and Brittany Sparrer both reached base with singles, while Puentes moved both runners over with a swinging sacrifice bunt.

One batter later, with runners on second and third, Hoff broke the 6-6 tie with a two-RBI single up the middle, pushing the Balers out to an 8-6 lead.

In the home half, though, Edison had runners on second and third with one out, and opted for a suicide squeeze. San Benito went home to get the lead runner, but the lead runner was safe and the Balers’ lead was cut to one run.

Edison was unable to plate the game-tying run, however, despite having runners on first and third with one out. San Benito pitcher Paige Miguel forced the next batter to pop out to left field, and the following batter to ground out to second base.

Miguel actually started the game for the Balers and pitched the first 2.1 innings before being relieved by Megan Sabbatini.

Sabbatini then tossed the next 3.2 innings before feeling discomfort in her back, and San Benito re-entered Miguel to throw the game’s final inning.

The tournament is scheduled to conclude on Saturday.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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