Walnut, CA - For the second straight year, the Mt. San Antonio College (SoCal No. 2) softball team will be playing for a CCCAA Championship. The Mounties scored all five of their runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back as they upended Palomar College (SoCal No. 1) 5-1 on Saturday evening.
After giving up zero runs and just two hits through her first two appearances in the state championships, Palomar (40-4) sophomore Alicia Garcia gave up a walk, bunt single, and a walk practically before she could blink. With the bases loaded and just one out the Mounties (40-7) came through. Back-to-back singles by sophomore Michelle Santiago and freshman Candace Haliburton made it 2-0. After Garcia seemingly settled in with a strikeout to the next hitter, freshman Amanda Esquivel gave the Mounties a huge lead with a bases clearing double to left-center.
The Comet offense, which had been responsible for 16 runs in only 11 innings of work through two games, failed to get much going in the early innings, and didn't have a base runner until the top of the third. In the third, Palomar would get a pair on via a hit and an error, but both were stranded. It was pretty much the same story the rest of the way with the exception of a solo shot that ricocheted off the scoreboard in center field by freshman Sarah Fisher.
Those five runs by the Mounties would prove to be all they needed, as Palomar only got the one run. After that shaky start for Garcia, she and two other pitchers combined to set the Mountie lineup down in order over the last five innings. Without the offensive backing, it didn't matter as Mt. SAC is back in the title game.
Hits were hard to come by in the game as the two teams combined for just eight total knocks. Mountie freshman Briana Wheeler (26-5) played a big role in that, scattering four hits and no walks across seven innings. Wheeler also fanned six Comet hitters. Palomar freshman Allie Hughen would pitch three solid innings of relief, giving up zero runs, zero hits, zero walks, while striking out a pair.
With the win, Mt. San Antonio locks in their spot in the CCCAA State Championship game tomorrow at 12:00 PM. The Mounties will have two chances to win one game, and a chance to win their first state championship since 2009. Trying to spoil the Mounties' chance will be the winner of tonight's final game between Cypress College and Palomar. First pitch is set for 5:30 PM.