Moorpark Softball splits doubleheader against Ventura College with walk-off home run


Ryan Bough

Moorpark Pitcher Seren Horton throws a pitch to a Ventura Pirates batter during the second game of the double header against Ventura College at Moorpark College on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Dominic D'Amico

In a doubleheader on Saturday, Moorpark College Raiders Softball faced off against a cross-district rival, the Ventura College Pirates. The first match ended in a narrow 13-14 disappointment for the Raiders when they failed to secure the last runs needed to take the game into extra innings or seize the victory.

Despite the initial loss though, the Raiders went into game two ready, ultimately rocketing back from the darkness of a 9-3 deficit into the golden glow of victory with a 3-run walk-off home run from Raiders Delanee Upchurch.

Upchurch credited her success to her team and coach.

“I couldn’t have done it without my team. My coach, he was helping me make adjustments all day because I was struggling. I’m just thankful the girls came out to play with purpose and I’m so excited,” Upchurch said.

The Raiders started strong in game two, holding the Pirates scoreless in the top of the first before using their turn at bat to notch three runs on the scoreboard, helped along by a couple of walks from Ventura. Through the second and third innings though, Moorpark and Ventura held it down, keeping each other from putting any more runs up on the board.

In the top of the fourth, though, the Pirates started to march forward, scoring a single run while holding Moorpark in place, ending the inning with a narrower 3-1 Raiders lead.

Moorpark Raider Tori Villegas swings at a pitch during the second game of the double header against the Ventura College Pirates at Moorpark College, CA. on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The top of the fifth was devastating for Moorpark, as the Pirates used a rapid series of singles assisted by a couple of walks to put six more runs on their side of the scoreboard. The bottom of the fifth was a little better, with a quick single as the only break in a rapid series of outs for the Raiders, leaving the inning to end at 7-3 Pirates.

Going into the top of the sixth, the Pirates worked to improve on their four-run lead, but only managed to rack up two additional runs. Moorpark struck back something fierce in the bottom of sixth though, with a cacophony of hits notching two points for Moorpark before a massive three-run home run from Raiders’ Tori Villegas brought the Pirates down to a close 9-8 lead.

With everything to play for in the seventh, the Raiders and the Pirates went blow-for-blow. In the top, the Pirates used a quintet of singles to put two more runs on the board, before a strikeout switched the sides. With Pirates leading 11-8, the Raiders stepped up to bat, with a double from Raiders’ Gabby Niebla and singles from Deanna Villa and Rachel Hurtado placing a run on the board and two Raiders on base.

Moorpark Raider __________ slides into home plate, scoring a run for the Raiders during the home game against Ventura College on Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Moorpark, CA.
Moorpark Raider Rachel Hurtado slides into home plate, scoring a run for the Raiders during the home game against Ventura College on Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Moorpark, CA. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Then, with the Raiders down by two, two outs on the board and Raiders on first and third, Raiders’ Delanee Upchurch stepped up to the plate and smashed a legendary three-run home run over the back fence, netting the Raiders a walk-off victory.

Raiders’ Pitcher Deanna Villa had stepped to pitch in the top of the sixth, right after the Pirates fifth inning assault on the scoreboard, and managed to stem the tide, holding the Pirates to two runs in the sixth and two in the seventh. After the game, asked how it felt to stem the tide so the Raiders could make their comeback.

“Our pitchers worked their butts off today, and they were giving it their all. So, for me to go in and just do whatever I could do to help the team, I was happy with,” said Villa.

On offense, Raiders’ Tori Villegas had hit a massive three-run home run in the sixth inning. For Villegas, the home run was a welcome culmination. Villegas stated, “It was pretty good… I was trying to make adjustments all game, wasn’t happening, I was swinging at wrong pitches. But, I eventually got it down and I always have my team to support me.”

The Raiders followed up Saturday’s win with two losses to Mt. San Antonio at home Monday. Moorpark’s next home game is a doubleheader versus Bakersfield College on May 8 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.