The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
College of San Mateo is the only community college team in California to reach the state softball tournament in each of the past five seasons.
With two losses to Mt. San Antonio College at this year’s double-elimination tourney at Bakersfield Community College, however, the Lady Bulldogs have yet to bring home a state championship.
After falling to the losers’ bracket with a 3-2 loss to Mt. SAC in Friday’s tournament opener, CSM was eliminated late Saturday night in a 9-5 loss, falling to Mt. SAC for the second straight day. Needing to win two games through the losers’ bracket to reach championship Sunday, CSM won Saturday’s doubleheader opener 9-4 to eliminate fellow Northern California representative San Joaquin Delta.
The Bulldogs (37-8 overall) were riding high heading into Saturday’s nightcap after winning in dramatic fashion against Delta. Tied 4-4 heading into the seventh, CSM rallied for five runs in the top of the inning. Meagan Wells — who shined with her defensive play at shortstop throughout the series — had the go-ahead knock to drive home Lexi Riccardi with an RBI single. Kristen Kowaki followed with an RBI single and Allie Stines powered the rally-capper with a three-run home run.
In Saturday’s second game, however, it was two round-trippers — despite neither leaving the yard — that doomed the Bulldogs.
With Mt. SAC (42-5) leading 1-0 in the third inning, the Mounties got to CSM starting pitcher Madison Mercer for a three-run inside-the-park home run by Bree Maikai. The Bulldogs got back two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double from Jordan Davis and a sacrifice fly by Lauren Quirke, but Mt. SAC got three more runs in the bottom of the frame on a “little league home run” by Taylor Jaurique.
Facing CSM reliever Morgan Jones with two on and one out, Jaurique singled down the left field line to drive home Carissa Felix. But after the throw went to Quirke at third base with runners at the corners, Jaurique dashed to second base, prompting an errant throw by Quirke, allowing both Kayla Sok and Jaurique to score on the play.
Mercer — a freshman right-hander — took all three decisions in the series, working 14 total innings.
Fronting the sixth best pitching staff in the state — CSM pitchers ranked No. 6 in California, crafting a 2.15 ERA in 2017 — Mercer finishes the year with a record of 24-6. Jones worked four innings as the starting pitcher in Saturday’s opener, taking a no-decision in CSM’s only win of the tournament. The sophomore right-hander worked seven innings through two appearances.
Stines had a standout series at the plate. The left-handed catcher went 7 for 13 with four RBIs, finishing the year with a .466 batting average, ranking third on the team. Freshman outfielder Gaby Zucchiatti paced the Bulldogs with a .541 average — placing fifth in the state — while Wells ranked second with a .483 mark. CSM entered Sunday tied second in the state with a .398 team batting average.
Stines also turned in a clutch defensive play in CSM’s lone win. After botching a rundown, the left-handed throwing catcher redeemed herself. The rundown play transpired with CSM clinging to a 4-3 lead. With Delta runners at second and third and one out, the Bulldogs had Chace Bailey, the runner between second and third, hung out to dry. With Davis the first baseman correctly sprinting home to cover the plate, however, Stines did not run at the base runner, allowing her to return to second base.
Delta’s Haily Kaufmann tied the game later in the at-bat with an RBI single, moving Bailey to third. But then a grounder to Wells at shortstop saw the sophomore mow down a runner at home for the third time in the tournament. It was a difficult play for Stines, with the throw going to the inside of the plate. Stines was nails though, gathering the throw and swiping the tag across her body and into foul territory to just nab Bailey, keeping the 4-4 tie in tact.
Stines, Wells, Zucchiatti and sophomore second baseman Samantha Dean each earned all-tournament honors for the Bulldogs.
Through five straight appearances in the state tournament, CSM has posted a 4-10 record at Bakersfield. The Bulldogs have dropped all three matchups with Mt. SAC in that time, last falling to the Mounties 9-4 in the 2014 tourney opener.
Cypress College went on to knock off Mt. SAC in Sunday’s championship game.
Cypress finished its perfect 48-0 run through the 2017 season, celebrating the state crown with a walk-off victory when sophomore Emma Walker scored all the way from second base on a swinging bunt five feet up the first-base line off the bat of freshman Val Romano. Walker advanced to third on the infield single then dashed home to a vacated home plate, as reported by Andrew Wheeler, Citrus College Sports Information Coordinator.