The article below originally appeared on MercuryNews.com and is being reprinted with permission.
About the only thing that can slow the College of San Mateo softball team appears to be rain. With its school-record winning streak at 26 games, CSM’s contest at home against San Jose City College was postponed Tuesday afternoon and will be made up today at 2 pm.
The Bulldogs (30-1, 11-0 Coast North), ranked No. 1 in the state, have not lost since Feb. 4, but will they be able to maintain their focus with eight games left in the regular season?
“That’s the magical question this year,” CSM coach Nicole Borg said. “Everybody has asked me that. We just talk about one game at a time. … We don’t really talk about what we’ve done, we don’t really talk about where we stand, we don’t talk about any other things that can get us caught up in being the team to beat, so to speak. They’ve understood that since Day 1.”
CSM reached the state championships last season, but this is a different team. Gone is team ace Michele Pilster, who went 31-5 with a 1.54 ERA and struck out 193 batters in 222 2/3 innings.
The current staff is pitching more to contact, with 125 strikeouts over 196 innings.
“Our pitching has been good enough to keep the ball in the park and to allow the defense to play really solid behind them,” Borg said.
But it’s the offense that carries the load. CSM is hitting .400 as a team, with six hitters carrying an average above that clip.
Sophomores Talisa Fiame (.408, 3 HR, 13 2B, 17 SB) and Natalie Saucedo (.458, 9 HR, 13 2B, 11 SB) provide leadership on the field and wish for nothing less than a return trip to Bakersfield.
“They kind of left with a bitter taste in their mouth, so maybe that’s kind of pushed them a little bit more to get better,” Borg said.
The Bulldogs have squeaked out one-run victories twice, including a 9-8 contest against Reedley on March 15.
“You want to play tight games,” Borg said. “You want to be able to execute in tight situations — put a bunt down when you need to put a bunt down, get a strikeout when you need a strikeout, roll up a double play when you need a big play on defense. And we have been tested, absolutely.”
After hosting San Jose City today, CSM travels to Chabot on Thursday and finishes the week on Saturday with a showdown at Foothill College.
“We’re up to the challenge,” Foothill coach Collin Pregliasco said.
The Owls (13-14-1, 6-6) are mired in a four-game skid that left them three games behind in the loss column to second-place Ohlone.
Foothill didn’t do itself any favors by going 2-4 in crossover games with the Coast South, including an 8-7 loss at San Jose City on Saturday.
“We didn’t quite do what we needed to do on that side,” Pregliasco said.
Foothill ace Antionette Zamundio has been in the circle for all but 32 innings this season. She’s gotten the job done with a 2.79 ERA and 113 strikeouts over 143 innings.
“She’s not overpowering, but she’s kept us in every game,” Pregliasco said.
The Owls are 12-3 when they score at least three runs, but only leadoff hitter Taylor Aguon (Palo Alto) is hitting over .324. The speedster has an average of .478, which has helped her swipe 16 bags. But no other teammate has more than five steals.
“We don’t really have speed up and down and we don’t have power, so we have to string some hits together and kind of make it work,” Pregliasco said.
On spring break, Pregliasco gave his team a couple of days off to recover. The Owls had a bye on Tuesday and will reconvene for practice today.