Celeste Ekman and Brittney Banales hit back-to-back home runs to power the Ventura College softball team to a 9-5 victory over Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo on Thursday. Anissa Padilla pitched a complete game, giving up five runs, three earned, while striking out 10 Cougar batters. Kayla Garcia and Ekman each had three hits t lead the Pirates (23-9, 9-2).
In the top of the second, Ekman led off with a single. Two outs later, Neal and Clemons walked to load the bases before Garcia came up with the clutch two-RBI single. Arianna Rivas followed with another base hit for an RBI and the Pirates led 4-0 after two innings.
In the third, the power came to life as Ekman and Banales stroked back-to-back solo home runs to give VC the 6-0 advantage.
Cuesta came back in the bottom half of the frame, however, with two runs to cut into their deficit.
VC responded with single runs in both the fourth and fifth frames. Padilla singled home Garcia in the fourth before Clemons hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Banales in the fifth.
The Cougars scored one run in the bottom of the fifth to close to within 8-3. The Pirates got an insurance run in the top of the sixth when Ekman singled in Rivas. Cuesta then scored one run in both the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings for the final 9-5 margin.
Ekman was 3-4 on the night, including the home run, with two runs batted in and two runs scored. Garcia was also 3-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Banales had a pair of hits, including the home run, with two runs scored and an RBI and Neal had a pair of hits while scoring twice.
Ventura's win puts Ventura into sole possession of second place in the Western State Conference North Division, one game behind Bakersfield in the loss column and one game ahead of third place Allan Hancock.
The Pirates have a pair of home non-conference contests coming up. They host Santiago Canyon on Saturday April 14 at 2:00 pm before hosting Cerritos in a make-up game on Monday April 16 at 3:00 pm.