Merced College softball team keeps playoffs hopes alive with win

04/17/2013 10:02 AM

04/17/2013 10:04 AM

The Merced College softball team is in playoff form.

The She-Devils have had to be after a slow start to the season.

Head coach Suzanne McGhee believes the team needs to win out to assure itself a place in the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Her team has responded with seven victories in its last nine games and four straight wins, with three games to play.

Louisiana Brasil helped keep hope and the streak alive on Tuesday afternoon with a walk-off single in a wild seventh-inning rally in the opening game of a doubleheader with Porterville.

MC scored three times in the bottom of the seventh to pull out an 11-10 victory and rode that momentum to an 11-3 win and sweep in the nightcap at She-Devil Diamond.

The two wins improve MC to 16-18 overall and 9-6 in the Central Valley Conference, one game behind second place Reedley (10-5). Taft (9-6 CVC) and Sequoias (9-5 CVC) also are right there.

“This team came in knowing we have everything to lose,” McGhee said. “We had to come out and fight hard for 14 innings. We’re playing for our playoff lives and know we’re at least going to have to finish second in the standings to get in.

“I think we’ve grown up as a team and know that no game is over until the last pitch. We found a way to get it done in the first game and then didn’t let up in the second game.”

Things started off a little dicey in the second game with Porterville’s Maria West tripling in a run in the first inning, and then coming all the way around to score when the throw back in got away.

The She-Devils calmed down after that.

They tied the game up in the bottom half of the first without picking up a hit.

MC then broke the game open by sending 11 batters to the plate in the third inning.

Brasil (2 for 4) got the rally started by doubling in a run. Sara Cervantes and Taylor Snowden each added run-scoring singles and Dominique Godoy was beaned with the bases loaded to force in a run.

The She-Devils pushed across five runs in the inning to build a commanding 7-2 lead. Unlike in the opening game, there would be no Pirate comeback.

Gabriella Espinosa settled in and allowed just an unearned run while striking out five the rest of the way.

She also helped expand the lead with a two-run single in the fourth inning and an RBI single in the sixth.

Godoy ended the game in the sixth by forcing the 8-run mercy rule with a run-scoring single of her own.

“We’re a team that believes in each other right now,” said Snowden, who had five RBIs on the day. “I think with every win we get a little more confident and a little more comfortable.”

That was certainly evident at the end of Game 1 of the doubleheader.

MC held an 8-5 advantage going into the seventh, but Porterville (12-24, 2-13) used the blustery weather to its advantage.

A couple hits and some fielding miscues got the Pirate rally started and then Bethany Threlkeld hit a three-run home run to put them up 9-8. Porterville tacked on a 10th to put the She-Devils’ backs against the wall.

MC answered right back. Snowden tied the game with a two-run single back up the box to set up Brasil’s heroics.

“We knew the game was never over,” Brasil said. “They have good hitters and can come back at anytime. We’ve shown we can do that, too. “I don’t think anyone put their heads down when we blew the lead. We just went about our business and, thankfully, got it done.”

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