As Sophia Asar rounded third base in the bottom of the seventh, it clearly became evident that the center fielder had her dead to rights at home plate.
So the Los Altos sophomore stepped on the brakes, but quickly realized she couldn’t avoid a tag out and turned around once again – finding herself in a pickle.
Pandemonium ensued as a throw to the catcher hit Asar on the back, allowing her to score the game-winning run in a Division IV semifinal at PAL Stadium in San Jose.
Los Altos 11, Pacific Grove 10.
“It was crazy,” Herrera said. “Everyone was just so exhausted. It was so hot. They were just jubilant. All they could think about was playing on Saturday.”
The third-seeded Eagles (14-12-1) will face No. 8 Piedmont Hills (15-9-1) with a CCS Division IV title on the line.
But after jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning it looked bleak as Los Altos surrendered four runs in the top of the fourth and another five in the next frame to fall behind 9-3.
Asar, who went the distance on the circle, fell victim to five errors yet never wavered.
“She doesn’t get frazzled, she never loses composure,” Herrera said. “I ask her every inning when she comes in, ‘How do you feel?’ And she’s, ‘Great!’ She’s just tough out there.”
Los Altos chipped away at the deficit with a quintet of hitters proving two RBIs apiece – Asar, juniors Alysandra Barrios and Maggie Byrne, along with seniors Stefania Bilyeu and Emeline Gaunce.
“They just refused to give up,” Herrera said. “They refused to let it be the end for them.”
He added: “The girls were giving it their all until the very end and it was just a classic win.”
Comparatively, it was a low-scoring affair in the other semifinal as Piedmont Hills prevailed 2-1 against fifth-seeded Mercy-Burlingame.
“For a 2-1 game, there was a lot of activity in every inning,” Herrera said. “There were great plays left and right, and they just prevailed. They’re going to be tough.”
– Vytas Mazeika
No. 2 Capuchino 1, No. 3 Hillsdale 0
Nohemi Livingston pitched a two-hitter and struck out seven in Capuchino’s semifinal win over Hillsdale at PAL Stadium in San Jose.
With this win, Capuchino punched its ticket to Saturday’s title game where the Mustangs will play the winner of Thursday’s semifinal between No. 4 Valley Christian and No. 8 Monterey.
It’ll be Capuchino’s first section championship appearance since winning the Division III crown in 2011.
Avery Motroni drove in the game’s only run in the first inning on a single up the middle that brought in Jasmine Shapiro.
Capuchino avenged two losses earlier in the season to Hillsdale in Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division play.
“This time they weren’t scared little girls on the field, they were softball players ready to compete.” Capuchino coach Tanya Borghello said. “As the game went on they got more comfortable and their energy was amazing.”
– Jesus Cano
No. 3 Burlingame 4, No. 2 Santa Cruz 3 (8 innings)
In a quest for back-to-back CCS titles, Burlingame needed a seventh-inning rally at Washington Park in Santa Clara.
Trailing 2-0 after six innings, the Panthers (18-11) managed to extend the game, at which point senior Charlie Dohemann delivered a two-RBI hit in the top of the eighth.
“It was just a matter of trying to string together some hits and score some runs,” Burlingame coach Shawn Scott said. “And we were fortunate enough to do that.”
Three weeks earlier, Burlingame lost 8-4 to Santa Cruz ( 16-14).
This time around 6-foot-2 right-hander Blake Dempsey kept the Panthers within striking distance, finishing with a line of seven innings, three hits allowed, two walks and four strikeouts.
“He gave us an opportunity,” Scott said.
Neither of the top seeds survived, same as last year when the Panthers took home the title as a No. 6 seed.
“The playoff brackets in high school never go as planned, obviously,” Scott said. “Teams rise to the occasion, coaches do a good job with game-planning, there’s a lot of factors that go into the reason that you don’t always see the 1 and 2 play into the championship.”
– Vytas Mazeika
No. 4 Monterey 9, No. 1 Los Gatos 3
Top-seeded Los Gatos didn’t play this semifinal close to home. Instead, the Wildcats had to travel over an hour south to play in a renovated park in Monterey as the CCS aims to include its entire section as host sites for playoff games.
After trading runs in the first inning, Los Gatos went up 2-1 in the third inning. Monterey pulled even in the top of the fourth during a back-and-forth contest, as Los Gatos sophomore Carter Johnstone cleared the right-field wall for a solo HR and 3-2 edge in the bottom of the fifth.
But the wheels fell off for the Wildcats (14-17) in the top of the sixth as Monterey (16-13) rallied for seven runs. Los Gatos relinquished the lead after a bases-loaded walk issued to senior Bam Reyes, while a two-RBI double by Nate Wedderburn and a triple by Patrick Adams blew it wide open.
– Vytas Mazeika
No. 3 St. Mary’s-Berkeley 5, No. 2 Justin-Siena 1
St. Mary’s scored one run in the first inning and three in the second as the Panthers beat Justin-Siena on the road in Wednesday’s semifinal.