Providence Pioneers Cap off Historic Season with 5-Inning Shutout of Ramona Covenant
In a season full of amazing feats, the Providence Pioneers saw one more during their 11-0 victory over the Ramona Covenant Tigers. In the bottom of a decisive 4th inning, junior center fielder Breanna Pelaez stole her 80th stolen base of the season. As of this writing, Pelaez is leading the nation in stolen bases, and it's not even close. The next closest base stealer is Abi Pikas from Pacheco in Los Banos, CA with 64 swipes.
Pikas and the Panthers have four games left, and their regular season concludes on May 9. She may have an outside chance of catching Pelaez, though Pikas’ average of 2.7 steals a game should provide confidence that Pelaez’s record will stand as the high mark in the nation. Pelaez was quick to credit her team for their role in her leading the nation in steals, “It’s unbelievable, I couldn’t do it without my team,” she said, “and my batting has been great this season, I'm very proud.” Pelaez also echoed her coach's sentiment that you have to get on base a lot if you want to accumulate 80 stolen bases.
After stealing her 80th base, Pelaez was driven home on a scorching 2-run RBI double into the left-centerfield gap by sophomore shortstop Delailah Lopez as part of a 5-run inning. That outburst set up starting pitcher Olyvia Rutter to close the door in the top of the 5th. Rutter did just that, sandwiching a swinging strikeout between two groundouts to the left side to complete the 5-inning complete game shutout. She finished with 6 strikeouts and only 2 hits allowed.
The Pioneers wasted no time getting started after Rutter stranded a runner on second base with her first strikeout in the top of the 1st. Pelaez got the Providence half of the first started with a single up the middle. She stole second on the first pitch to Gloria Galindo for her 78th swipe of the season. Pelaez then stole third before eventually scoring the first run of the game. Rutter also showed her prowess with this bat, driving in Galindo and taking second base on the throw home. Rachel Handy came on as a pinch runner for Rutter and later scored on Malia Rode’s RBI single to cap the scoring for the inning.
Rutter’s day in the circle was largely uneventful in a good way, as the only other hit she allowed was a hot shot up the middle in the top of the 4th inning that she immediately erased. Rutter got the next batter to ground into a double play before recording her 5th strikeout to end the inning. “I focus a lot when I’m on the mound and not worry about the runners on base,” Rutter said regarding her approach when she does have traffic on the bases, “I tell myself to stick to my mechanics because I know what I’m doing and I know how to make my pitches work.”
Other notables at the plate were sophomore Mia Allinson and junior Isabella Barton, who both finished perfect at the plate with an extra base hit each. Allinson went 3 for 3 with an RBI while Barton was 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored and a walk. Rode went 2 for 3 with a run scored and 2 RBI. Pelaez, Lopez, and Galindo all finished 3 for 3 with 2 RBI apiece.
The Pioneers end the regular season with a stellar 20-5 record overall, going an undefeated 12-0 in Prep League play. “This is what we were hoping for in the sense of them playing hard,” Coach Manny Travieso said, “If you notice our record, it’s like I’ve told them, they are the only team that can beat them.” Providence will face the winner of the Division 5 Wildcard matchup between La Quinta and Westminster in the CIF Southern Section Division playoffs. First pitch scheduled for Thursday, May 4 at 3:15 pm at Olive Park Field 1.