The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

The Lady Bulldogs rediscovered their pitching mojo Friday to finish off a sweep in the opening round of the California Community College Athletic Association Softball Northern Regional playoffs.

Siona Halwani

Siona Halwani

No. 2 College of San Mateo (34-5) recorded its first shutout since April 16, taking out No. 15 Merced (22-17) with a 9-0 victory. Sophomore right-hander Siona Halwani worked five scoreless frames, allowing four hits while striking out three. Freshman right-hander Nohemi Livingston closed it out, fired two perfect innings to close it out, and advance the Bulldogs to the second round of the playoffs.

Halwani earned the win, improving her record to 13-1. For a majority of the season, CSM’s pitching staff led the state in team ERA. The Bulldogs now rank second in the state, and tops in Northern California, with a 1.28 staff ERA. Only Fullerton is better with a 1.27 ERA.

CSM’s offense gave Halwani all the runs she’d need with an RBI double by Ari Williams in the third inning. But the Bulldogs kept adding on. RBI doubles from Ava Mendoza and Ariana Montiel fueled a three-run fourth. After scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth, CSM plated three in the seventh, with RBI singles from Izzy Cowne and CiCi Kim, and a sacrifice fly by Taija Warren.

Williams and Cowne led all batters in the game with two hits apiece. Cowne was 5 for 7 with four RBIs, and Williams was 4 for 7 with four RBIs in the series.

The Bulldogs opened the best-of-three playoff series Thursday against Merced with an 11-3 win.