by Andrew Wheeler, CCCFCA Sports Information
Bakersfield, CA -- Palomar College clinched the programs fifth State Softball Championship and second in three season on Sunday afternoon with a 5-1 win over College of San Mateo in the "if" game of the 2015 California Community College Athletic Association State Softball Championships. The Comets (41-4-1) scored four runs over the final three innings to defeat the Bulldogs (43-2) for the second time this weekend.
The game got off to a wild start, literally. Palomar got a leadoff single from Keilani "KK" Fronda to start off the game followed by a walk by Kali Pugh. Brooke Huddleson would come up to the plate and lift a high fly ball to right field, moving Fronda to third. A few pitches later, Fronda crossed home on a wild pitch by Lauren Berriatua.
San Mateo had nearly the same start. Melina Rodriguez led off the bottom of the first with a single through the right side of the field, followed by Kayleen Smith reaching first via a fielder's choice that also saw Rodriguez stay safe at second base. The duo would move to second and third on a wild pitch, and not much later, third and home on another wild pitch from Summer Evans.
Berriatua (29-2) would find a groove after the rocky first, retiring the side in each of the second and third innings. Evans meanwhile only allowed one base runner in the second, before finding some trouble in the third. San Mateo had a good chance in that bottom third, getting three singles over the course of four at bats from Rodriguez, Donovan, and Berriatua to load the bases up with one out. Evans dug her way out though by inducing an inning ending double play keeping the score locked up at one run each.
The fourth would come and go without any highlights, before things got interesting in the top of the fifth. Palomar's Stephanie Koshier got the ball rolling with a leadoff single through the left side of the field. Koshier would be called out at second on the next at bat, but an error by San Mateo on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Leah Gordon put runners on second and third with one out. Up came Evans who helped her own cause with a sacrifice fly to center field scoring Kristina Carbajal. Five pitches later Fronda came up with a clutch hit, lifting a single to left field scoring Gordon and making it 3-1 Palomar.
San Mateo wasn't able to answer in the bottom of the fifth as Evans set the Bulldogs down in order. Palomar kept momentum firmly on their side into the top of the sixth, where the Comets loaded the bases up with one out. Carbajal came up with the big hit in the inning for the Comets as she hit a rocket to deep center field. San Mateo center fielder Brittany Wilkerson was the only saving grace on the play as she made a diving catch at the warning track that only allowed one run to score for Palomar on what would have likely cleared the bases.
Trailing 4-1, the Bulldogs got a two-out hit back up the middle of the field by Christy Peterson, but no more. The Comets meanwhile still kept their foot on the gas, loading up the bases with two outs and getting a big RBI single from Sara Rodriguez that made it 5-1 in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, Evans (29-4) shut down all hope of a Bulldog comeback, by inducing a foul out, a line out, and a groundout to short stop that clinched the program's fifth title.