The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
No sooner did the College of San Mateo softball team wrap up its 50th straight home win did the focus shift to one simple message — on to No. 51.
The Lady Bulldogs (22-2 overall) rode the arms of pitchers Samantha Dean and Christy Peterson to earn their 50th consecutive home victory with a 2-0 win over Napa Valley College (0-11) Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.
Combating the elements — the weather held up despite a slight drizzle and a strong crosswind — Dean allowed three hits over three innings before Peterson turned in the finest outing of her collegiate career. The sophomore fired four no-hit innings to earn the win, walking two and hitting one batter. Her record improves to 6-1.
“I think they hit their spots well,” CSM head coach Nicole Borg said. “The velocity was not what it normally is, but when you’re dealing with a 21 mile-per-hour wind, that makes it tough to do. But they changed speeds and they were using their defense.”
The Napa lineup, which was retired in order just once all day, continually threatened but could not manufacture a run. The Storm stranded five runners in the game and hit into two double plays.
CSM, on the other hand, got all the offense it needed in the second inning when Kaitlin Chang led off the frame with an inside-the-park home run.
While Chang technically hit three inside-the-parkers in one game last season against City College of San Francisco, those all were a product of CCSF’s home field at Fairmont Park not having an outfield fence. Saturday’s dash around the base paths was her first such homer at CSM.
Chang’s homer came on a smash over the third-base bag that ricocheted off the angled fence down the left-field line and past Napa’s left fielder. As the ball rolled all the way to the outfield wall, Chang picked up the third-base coach Borg, who was waving her all the way.
“Kaitlin is a hustler right out of the gate,” Borg said. “She was at second before that hit the outfield fence. So, that was awesome.”
The Bulldogs added an insurance run in the third after a gritty at-bat by No. 2 hitter Jordan Davis. With CSM’s best power threat on deck in the person of Harlee Donovan, Davis locked up with Napa starting pitcher Taya de Alba for an 11-pitch at-bat. Davis won the battle when she drilled a fastball to the center-field wall for a double.
Donovan followed with a rocket to left that the Napa left fielder played into an RBI double, scoring Davis to make it 2-0.
De Alba settled in from there, going the distance in taking the loss. The freshman right-hander mixed up speeds all day and had CSM hitters consistently moving up to the front of the batter’s box.
The Bulldogs managed seven hits in the game, matching their season-low at home.
“I feel like it was more on us than being defeated by the pitcher,” Davis said.
Peterson then emerged to ride the two-run margin to victory. The Bulldogs’ starting second baseman for the past two seasons, Peterson hadn’t pitched since was 13. Going into last season, though, she intended to serve as a two-way player until she injured her hip, effectively ending her chances of returning to the pitching circle as a freshman.
With CSM graduating a pair of sophomore arms after last season, Peterson resolved to get back into the pitching rotation. She has thrown 39 innings on the three-woman staff, trailing Dean (60 innings pitched) and freshman Morgan Jones (49 2/3 innings). Peterson is now just one win shy of the other two arms, with Dean and Jones touting seven wins apiece this season.
“I think we did well,” Peterson said of CSM’s pitching performance Saturday. “We held it down.”
CSM’s home winning streak started April 8, 2014 with a 9-0 win over Mission College. Since then, CSM has lost just six games — all on the road — with four of those losses coming in the state championship tournament.
“It doesn’t feel like [playing at home or on the road] is ever really that different,” Davis said. “But when we come home, we get a little more energy. And the streak, we want to keep it going.”