After four innings, it looked as if the Douglas softball team would be returning home with a victory Thursday, but with two big innings late in the game, Cienega came back to beat the visiting Bulldogs 13-5.
In a game full of wild pitches, stolen bases and crucial fielding errors, it was the offensive output of Cienega senior Valerie Luera that proved decisive after the third baseman went 4 for 4 with two doubles, a home run and seven RBIs.
Cienega freshman Kayla Green struggled to find the strike zone in the early innings, and a three-run double by the Bulldogs' Karina Avecucho gave the visitors an early lead in the top of the first inning.
Cienega (11-5-1) scored in the bottom of the inning when Luera drove in two runs with a double off Douglas pitcher Sydnea Estrella.
For the next two innings, both Estrella and Green kept opposing batters from scoring with improved control on their fastballs and textbook fielding from their teammates.
Green pitched three lights-out innings after getting roughed up in the first, but at the start of the fifth inning, Cienega coach Eric Tatham decided to replace his young pitcher with junior Sarah Andrews.
The move looked to be disastrous after a fielding error by Andrews gave Douglas two quick runs, but the smart fielding of Cienega shortstop Stephanie Tatham got the Bobcats off the diamond before any serious damage could be done.
Having gone down by three runs earlier in the game, the Cienega coach loudly encouraged his girls to keep on fighting late into the game.
With no relief seemingly available, the Douglas pitcher was worn down by the proficient offense of Cienega, and in the last two innings, she gave up 10 runs.
Continuing her dominance at the plate, Luera smashed the ball toward the fence with every swing, taking her season total to 29 RBIs and improving her already stellar batting average with a perfect day at the plate.
For Cienega, a well-rounded performance in the second half of the game secured the victory for a squad that looked as if it was never in danger of losing.
Heading home, the Bulldogs (7-2) likely felt the score didn't accurately reflect how competitively the game was played.