By Andrew Wheeler
Citrus College Sports Information Director
BAKERSFIELD, Calif - College of San Mateo, the #1 seed out of Northern California in this weekend's California Community College Athletic Association State Softball Championships, edged NorCal #2 San Joaquin Delta in eight innings in the first elimination game of the weekend on Saturday evening. The Bulldogs scored five unanswered runs in the top of the eighth inning, and sent home the Mustangs with a 9-4 win.
San Mateo (37-7) had the first big play of the evening when freshman Gaby Zuchiatti, the California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association Player of the Year, belted a two-run home run over the right-center field fence for the early Bulldog lead. The Mustangs would have half an answer in the bottom half of the first, when a fielder's choice RBI by sophomore Vanessa Contreras scored sophomore Kaylee Buhrkuhl. In the bottom of the second, Delta would tie the game up thanks to a passed ball that allowed freshman Mariah Grischott to score from third.
After the four total runs by the two teams in the first two innings, both starting pitchers (Mustang sophomore Peyton Rose and Bulldog sophomore Morgan Jones) settled down and posted scoreless third and fourth innings. San Mateo would pick up two more scores in the top of the fifth innings, getting RBI doubles from freshman Allie Stines and sophomore Samantha Dean. Delta immediately responded though, using back-to-back RBI singles by sophomores Chace Bailey and Haily Kaufmann to tie the game up at four runs each.
Neither team would cross home in the sixth or seventh innings. San Mateo would load up the bases with one out in the top of the sixth, but the Mustangs got a 1-2-3 double-play to end the threat. The Mustangs would respond runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth and a runner on second in the bottom of the seventh, but both times their base runners were left on the base paths.
San Mateo would take full advantage of the missed Delta opportunity in the bottom of the seventh. Sophomore Meagan Wells would break the 4-4 tie with a RBI single back up the middle of the field, while sophomore Kristen Kowaki made it 6-4 on a RBI single to center. That brought Stines to the plate, and she gave the Bulldogs a big cushion, hitting a three-run blast to dead center field that made it 9-4.
After escaping some jams in the sixth and seventh innings, San Mateo sophomore pitcher Madison Mercer (24-5), who replaced Jones in the bottom of the fifth, had her best inning when she needed it the most. With a chance to close out the game, Mercer fanned the first batter of the inning, and then induced a pair of game ending groundouts to seal the win.
Wells would lead the way at the dish going 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI. Stines would go 2-for-5 with two scores and four RBIs. For Delta, Burhkuhl was 2-for-3 with two runs, while Kaufmann was 2-for-4. With the loss, Delta's fantastic 2017 ends with a 39-8 mark. San Mateo meanwhile till take on Mt. San Antonio College at approximately 9:00 PM for the right to play Cypress College tomorrow at noon, with the state title on the line. Mt. SAC defeated San Mateo earlier this weekend 3-2.