The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
With the lightning-fast home run shots of College of San Mateo’s softball’s team, don’t blink, you might miss one.
But don’t worry, there’s plenty more where that came from.
The Lady Bulldogs homered four times in four innings to cruise past Yuba College 18-1 in the opening round of the California Community College regional playoffs Sunday at CSM. And the way they are swinging it, the Lady Bulldogs may just be on the verge of making program history. CSM — despite years of dominance in Northern California — has never won a state title since the program’s inception approximately 40 years ago.
“We’ve played this whole season wanting to take it to state and that’s what we have our heart set on,” CSM catcher Lelani Akai said. “So, we’re going to do whatever we can as a team to get there.”
With the win, the Lady Bulldogs improve to 39-2 overall. With a 21-0 win in Saturday’s playoff opener, they outscored Yuba 39-1 in the series. Both wins were mercy-rule victories, with CSM now having scored six straight mercy-rule wins dating back to April 10 against Sacramento. Over that stretch, CSM has outscored its opponents 90-2. Dating back to their April 3 win over Chabot, the Lady Bulldogs have outscored opponents 113-2.
With such dominance, CSM had every reason to be celebratory following Sunday’s triumph. But the scene following the big win at the CSM softball field was as even keel as a run-of-the-mill regular-season postgame scene — no screaming or dog piles — just classy high-fives and a quick dispatch to left field for a postgame powwow.
“We just want to take it day by day, game by game, because we know nothing is granted,” Akai said. “So, we’d rather just focus on what’s going on now and not celebrate too much now.”
In the meantime, CSM lets its bats do the talking almost every inning. Sunday, the Lady Bulldogs scored in four of five innings, fueled by multi-home run performances by each Talisa Fiame and Brooke Ramsey. The sophomores matched one another, each hitting a two-run shot and a three-run shot to total five RBIs apiece on the day.
CSM’s intensity didn’t wane even with an insurmountable lead. Fiame explained the value of never giving away an at-bat.
“You just have to remember that all these at-bats are extremely important because it’s live pitching,” Fiame said. ‘You have to take advantage of that. You go a week without it and then you have to get back into seeing live pitching again. You just have to remember when you’re up by a lot of runs, you can never score enough.”
But amid all the offense with that incredible 113-2 tally since April 3, it’s important to remember the “2” is mostly due to the performance of sophomore right-hander Ashlynne Neil. With the win Sunday, she improves to 22-2 on the season. And the only run Yuba scored came in the fifth inning off CSM’s bullpen.
“She’s a great pitcher,” Akai said. “When her stuff is working … there’s no shot of them hitting it. She’s been a big factor. When me and her, when we’re both spot-on, it’s pretty unstoppable.”
Next up for the Lady Bulldogs is the Super Regional playoffs with the winner of the four-team, double-elimination tournament advancing to the State Championship tourney. Super Regional play begins Friday at CSM, along with Ohlone, San Joaquin Delta and Sacramento.
“[Home field] is a huge advantage to us,” CSM head coach Nicole Borg said. “I think we play really well at home. … It’s always nice to be at home and play. You have your fan support and your family, and former players come watch. Your recruits come and watch. It’s a good deal.”
CSM enters the second round of the postseason pacing all California Community College teams with a .430 team batting average.
“We’re all just motivated towards the same goal,” Fiame said. “We all want to win and I think that’s what fuels us.”