The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
With the wind whipping to left field of the College of San Mateo softball diamond, Wednesday’s regular-season finale had all the makings of a power show.
The Lady Bulldogs did not disappoint.
CSM closed its regular season with a 20-0 mercy-rule victory over visiting Foothill, though the rout served merely as a backdrop for the making of history. With the win, the 2015 Lady Bulldogs etched their name as the greatest team throughout a regulation season in program history, completing an undefeated run with a 35-0 record.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” CSM freshman second baseman Christy Peterson said. “It’s our first ever undefeated season at CSM, so I’m really excited for my team, and myself, and my coaches. It’s an amazing feeling.”
While the team entered play fully aware it was playing for history, CSM head coach Nicole Borg kept her players loose by chirping about the jet stream to left field. But she also reminded them they had a chance to do something special.
“Not that we had anything to lose consequently to our season, but we were striving for that perfect season,” Borg said. “Hey, what the heck? Why not? We only have one game left. We might as well shoot for it. So, writing our name in history is pretty awesome. The 2015 softball team can always say they were the first ones to do it.”
The wind actually played less of a factor than the Bulldogs’ strong, fundamental approaches at the plate.
Peterson paced the Bulldogs with a 3-for-3 afternoon, but the best hitting team in the state with a .435 team batting average needed just 11 hits to generate its 20 runs. CSM also drew seven walks and three hit batsmen. Every starter reached base in the game.
“It’s a team effort and we need a team to defeat people,” Peterson said. “The best part about playing with this team is we have a very good vibe. We all get along off and on the field, so it helps us on the field. So, when we work hard it shows.”
Make no mistake, the CSM power did show up. After the Bulldogs dropped a three-spot in the first inning, Melina Rodriguez hammered a solo shot in the second. Lelani Akai followed with a majestic two-run bomb in the third to spark a 13-run rally in the frame, which saw the Bulldogs send 16 batters to the plate.
While the power display excited, Rodriguez impressed with her first-inning at-bat by patiently coaxing a leadoff walk. After a sacrifice bunt by Kayleen Smith, Harlee Donovan reached on an error and cleanup hitter Lauren Berriatua walked to load the bases. Akai was then hit by a pitch to force home Rodriguez with the first run of the game. Peterson followed with the game’s first hit, shooting a two-run single to center to give CSM a 3-0 lead.
When Rodriguez came to the plate in the second inning, however, she got her pitch and jumped on it, drilling a rocket out of the yard to left.
“I was feeling really good,” Rodriguez said. “I felt like, after that, my teammates were going to pick me up and get more hits. And they ended up doing that.”
CSM impressed on both sides of the ball. In the circle Berriatua dominated, allowing just one hit through four shutout innings to earn her 23rd win of the year. The sophomore right-hander struck out seven. And the trouble she did get into, she soldiered right through it.
Of course, “trouble” is a relative term for Berriatua, who cemented her state ERA crown for the regular season with a 0.28 mark. In the first inning, Foothill leadoff hitter Alexandra Calvert reached base on an error by shortstop Kayleen Smith. On the following pitch, Berriatua induced a tailor-made double-play ball to short and Smith shuffle to Peterson at second to turn a flawless twin-killing.
In the second inning, Foothill cleanup hitter Ariana Garcia tabbed the Owls’ only hit off Berriatua with a leadoff single. The ace right-hander reciprocated by striking out the next five batters she faced.
Berriatua departed after four innings as CSM turned to sophomore Lacie Crawford to close it out. Crawford yielded two hits and a walk but, like her rotation mate, pitched through trouble to keep Foothill off the board for CSM’s 18th shutout of the season and its sixth over the last seven games. Crawford recorded the final out of the regular season with a strikeout.
“It was great,” Crawford said. “Getting the final out was just the seal that we had an undefeated season. It was great. My defense was making great plays. It felt really good.”
Up next for CSM are the regional playoffs. By virtue of being the No. 1-ranked team in the state, the Bulldogs will have home-field advantage against opponents to be determined May 1-2.