SARATOGA — A back and forth battle between the two best softball teams in the Central Coast Section ended when Sydney Stewart hit a liner to left field with two out in the bottom of the ninth. Mitty left fielder Mia Rodriguez came in on it and to her right toward the foul line.
Rodriguez dove for the ball, but it landed just beyond her reach as Carly Cummings sprinted home from second with the winning run and St. Francis defeated Mitty 6-5 for the CCS Open Division championship Saturday at West Valley College.
It was the third time St. Francis (28-2) beat Mitty (26-4) this season, but this one was a classic, in a category of its own.
“I don’t think I ever coached a game of this magnitude that was so intense,” St. Francis coach Mike Oakland said.
The Lancers took a 5-4 lead into the top of the seventh and were two outs from winning in regulation when Corri Hicks blasted one over the fence in left (her 12th of the season) to tie it up.
Neither team scored in the eighth and Mitty went down in order in the top of the ninth. In the bottom half, there were two out when Cummings singled to right, her third hit in five at-bats. Jessica Oakland hit a grounder into the hole between short and third. Mitty shortstop Taryn Kern fielded the ball with a diving backhand and made a great throw to first that Oakland just barely beat.
That brought Stewart to the plate.
“I knew I needed to look for my pitch,” the University of Washington-bound Stewart said. “I saw one inside and knew I had to jump on it.”
She worked the count to 3-1 before delivering the game-winner.
“I’m not surprised one bit that Syd got that hit,” coach Oakland said. “All she needed to do was get a pitch she could handle. I’ve known the kid her whole life and seen her get so many big hits.”
Mitty got three runs in the top of the first — on a bases-loaded walk to Sara Pina and a two-out, two-run single by Alyssa Onyeagwa — to put the Lancers in the unfamiliar position of having to play catchup.