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11 and victorious: Yuba City edges River Valley; Honkers stay a game back of CVC lead heading into Bella Vista game

Apr. 26—Scoreless through seven complete, it took four full extra innings to decide a winner Thursday between visiting Yuba City High softball and rival and host River Valley in the Capital Valley Conference finale between the schools.

The Honkers finally were able to break through for a second and final time when Tori Hernandez led off the top of the 11th with a triple on a ball that the junior sliced down the right-field line far enough way to allow Hernandez to reach three bags safely against RV starter Payton Smith. YC's Alexia Alvarez followed with a one-out sac fly to center to plate Hernandez for the go-ahead and eventual game-inning run to topple RV for a second time this season, 2-1 in 11 innings.

Yuba City moved to 15-7 overall and 6-3 in the CVC — a game back of league leader Bella Vista. Patty Gates' club completes its home-and-home with Bella Vista (15-3, 7-1 CVC) Thursday at 4 p.m. in Fair Oaks.

Gates credited her team for never giving up against River Valley (7-12, 2-7), a club who played a solid defensive game, especially in the outfield.

"It was the difference in the game," Gates said, referring to RV right fielder Amyah Lawrence making multiple twisting putouts in right to help keep the game scoreless through seven.

Hernandez and YC kept pushing as the Honkers' star in the circle was never in jeopardy of getting pulled, Gates said, despite the game dragging into the 11th inning. The righty struck out six in 11 innings and allowed one earned run while walking just two batters. River Valley hit under .200 for the game against Hernandez.

Unfortunately for Gates and Yuba City, Smith was just as effective for the Falcons, striking out 12 and allowing an opponents batting average of .150 over the course of the day turned early evening in south Yuba City.

Gates credited Smith for staying tough through the day.

RV head coach Taylor Pack, a alumna of Sutter Union High School and former Women's College World Series national champion at UCLA when the Bruins took down Oklahoma in 2019, said Smith is a "self-motivator," and came in to "do a job."

Smith twice late in the night sent Yuba City home with runners in scoring position. In the top of the fifth, Yuba City's Drew McDonald collected a two-out double off Lawrence's glove — one of the few that she did not corral — to put the Honkers in scoring position 120 feet away.

McDonald would be left stranded after Smith ended the frame with a swinging strikeout. Two innings later, Smith repeated the feat with a swinging strikeout with YC dangling away from second base.

The junior righty walked none and faced just 40 hitters in 11 innings before receiving the tough-luck loss.

Despite the defeat, Pack said Smith and the team are continuing to move forward to the "high standard" that she has set for the Falcons' program.

The Falcons return to tackle the league's third-place team, Roseville (14-10, 6-3) on Tuesday and Sutter on the road a week from Monday. Both games are set for 4 p.m.

Yuba City opens the week Monday at home against Wheatland in a nonleague battle at 4 p.m.

MaxPreps' softball playoffs projections

Yuba City, which finished the week just outside the MaxPreps Sac-Joaquin Section top-25, is projected into the playoffs, as of Thursday, to open up on the road against West Park in an No. 8-9 matchup in the D-III playoffs.

Sutter, the area's best team in terms of ranking, came in Thursday at No. 3 in the SJS. The Huskies (20-0) are projected as the No. 1 seed in D-V where it'll open up against West Campus if the postseason began today.

MaxPreps' projections are based solely on teams' ranking.

Faith Christian, at 3-4 overall and 3-1 in the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League, is projected as the five-seed to open the D-VII playoffs against No. 4 Foresthill.

The Lions won their lone game of the week over Leroy Greene Academy, 11-10.

Hannah Bliss and Abby Cunningham each had three hits on Tuesday.