TEMPLETON — The Paso Robles High School girls softball team has charged into second place in the Mountain League led by the sword that is the right arm of freshman pitcher Jaiden Rolston who has shutout three consecutive opponents in the midst of the Bearcats six-game winning streak.
The streak started three weeks ago when Paso Robles (10-4) hosted Sanger and won 6-4. The Crimson ‘Cats have been completely dominant over their win streak as Ralston only continues to get more comfortable toeing the rubber on varsity. Paso Robles has outscored their opponents, Sanger, SLO, AG, St. Joseph, Righetti and Templeton a combined 36-8 during the streak with Ralston allowing zero runs against their last three opponents. The freshman sensation needed to be on top of her game on Friday when Paso Robles took on Templeton and the excellent pitching of Ashley Daugherty but will need to raise it to another level on Friday as the Bearcats welcome Bailey Doherty, the PAC 8’s reigning Pitcher of the Year, to Paso Robles for a one vs two matchup.
Ralston has been completely dominating this season and has only continued to improve as the year continues. According to Maxpreps.com, Ralston currently has a .89 earned run average in 55 innings pitched with 77 strikeouts. The Bearcats are 7-2 in her starts this season and her numbers are starting to look a lot like Doherty’s from a year ago when she finished the year with a .75 ERA.
Friday night the Bearcats took on the challenge of Ashley Daugherty and the Templeton Eagles at Vineyard Elementary school. The Eagles have a young team this season and have lived and died, fairly or unfairly, on the golden arm of their Texas A&M commit. When Daugherty is on and recording strikeouts in the high teens, the Eagles can compete with anyone but she does not get the luxury of being picked up on an off day very often.
The Bearcats broke the scoreless tie in the third inning capitalizing on Daugherty’s leadoff walk issued to Emma Phillips. Once on base, head coach Billy Tidwell elected to have Madison Howard run for Phillips and she promptly took second. Milder came up next with a great at-bat fouling off three pitches before earning a walk and Kirra Vargas’ sacrifice bunt moved Howard to third and Milder to second. The Bearcats then scored on back-to-back errors by the inexperienced Eagles’ defense to take a 2-0 lead.
Daugherty’s first-inning double was the only base hit the Eagles would have in the game until they were facing their final out. Ralston stood toeing the rubber as a pillar of confidence as the red of her sunglasses gave off the illusion of
“I came from a travel team, the California Sun Cats and that has just kind of helped me get ready and help me mature into what I am now,” Ralston says of how she is so composed at such a young age. “My team is really supportive, I know that I have a good defense to like back me up and everything.”
Ralston only allowed two hits in the complete-game shutout and struck out 10.
“My approach on the mound was to just pitch strikes and do what I do every day,” she said. “For our team, our approach was to just hit the ball on the ground and do our thing and score
During their winning streak, the girls have climbed into the top 15 in the CIF Central Section and currently sit at number 12. Friday’s game against the Hounds was moved to Thursday as the teams try to get the game in before rainy weather hits.
Thursday’s game will be a clash of the two best teams in the county and will feature some fun matchups. Atascadero’s pitcher, Doherty, has a 1.01 ERA this season and already has 185 strikeouts as she continues to shut down team after team on offense.
The Hounds (12-5) have also found their power game in the recent four-game winning streak hitting five home runs in that span. Atascadero shortstop Bailee Crawford has two, Doherty has two and Claire Lohayza has one but has her batting average up near .500 and always has the green light to steal.