Ashley Heath-Smith wiped away the tears.
Her season suddenly over, the Merced four-year starter managed to smile as she posed for pictures with her coaches.
Heath-Smith did all she could to try to get her team to Sacramento on Saturday, going 4 for 4 and scoring all three Merced runs, but it wasn't enough as Bear Creek upset the Bears 5-3 on Tuesday afternoon in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 outbracket game.
"Emotions are high," Heath-Smith said. "It's hard, especially for the seniors. We wanted this, so did the rest of the team. Our hearts were in it. We just didn't get the clutch hits and they did."
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The Bears (20-8) couldn't overcome two Bear Creek home runs.
Merced jumped in front with a first-inning run as Ruby Quiralte knocked in Heath-Smith with a two-out chopper through the middle.
However, things unraveled for the Bears in the top of the third inning.
Bear Creek (16-9-1) received a huge break with no outs and runner on first when neither umpire saw Victoria Mata's bunt attempt bounce off the ground and hit her in the batters box.
Instead of an 0-2 count on Mata with a runner still on first, Mata was able to reach on an error to put two runners on base for the Bruins' top hitter Kym Rau.
Rau then launched a three-run homer over the left-field fence off Merced starter Chelsea Evans.
The Bears cut the lead to 3-2 in the fifth inning when Evans singled in Heath-Smith.
Already frustrated with the missed call on the bunt in the third, Bears coach Bart McAfee was ejected after complaining about a call on a stolen base attempt in the sixth.
The Bruins added two crucial insurance runs in the seventh when pitcher Celine Blanco blasted a two-run homer to extend the lead to 5-2.
Merced rallied for a run in the seventh, but Blanco got Evans to fly out to end the game.
"We had a good season, I'm tired of losing the first game in the playoffs," McAfee said. "We wanted to move on and play some softball. I know we have a good team. We want to show other teams we have a good team."
Atwater 9, Franklin 0
ELK GROVE -- The Falcons jumped on the Wildcats early as Aliyah Ricks hit a key two-run double during a three-run second inning.
Atwater (17-11) then broke the game open with six runs in the third inning. Jenna Boesch went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Gabi Espinoza and Hayley Lawrence added two hits apiece.
Espinoza scattered nine hits as she threw her second straight shutout. She finished with five strikeouts and no walks.
"She was rock solid out there," Atwater coach Marcia-Marie Rosson said. "They hit her a couple times, but they couldn't string anything together against her."
The Falcons will play St. Mary's on Saturday in Sacramento at 11 a.m.