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Merced College softball leaves tournament victory on base paths

Steve Cassady was concerned he was leaving his pitcher out to dry.

But the Merced College softball coach didn't see a lot of choice in the matter.

With his other two hurlers logging a high number of pitches in the COS Stars-N-Stripes opener and the She-Devils scheduled to play four more games over the weekend, Cassady made the call to let Kristen Kronberg try finishing what she started.

It didn't go as he'd hoped.

Shasta College rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out a 6-5 victory on Friday night.

The defeat wrapped up a disappointing day for MC, as the She-Devils already had lost 7-2 to Gavilan in an afternoon game.

Given the circumstances, the second one really hurt.

"I thought Snake (Kronberg) pitched an excellent game," Cassady said. "It's kind of a lot to ask your pitcher to give you a complete game at this time of year.

"Our rotation is backlogged a little bit because of inconsistent performances, so I kept her in there."

Cassady's hand was forced when Deborah McCollom couldn't get out of the fifth inning in a 7-2 loss to Galivan earlier in the day.

Sooner than he would have liked, Samantha Pressler was called upon to close out that game.

Despite earning a complete-game victory the day before, Kronberg insisted fatigue wasn't a factor.

"I wasn't tired, I just left some balls where I shouldn't," Kronberg said. "You know your going to throw a lot of innings, especially right now.

"You just have to fight through it."

MC offered up plenty of fight against Shasta, but couldn't capitalize on a number of early chances.

The She-Devils left at least one runner on in each of the first six innings and 11 total.

Despite outhitting Shasta, MC went just 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

"The offense did a good job today," Kronberg said. "We had more hits than Shasta. Their hits were just a little timelier."

The She-Devils took a 4-3 lead in the fifth on Mallory Bair's run-scoring single.

Center fielder Nicole Blades-Moore gave MC an insurance run with a one-out, run-scoring triple in the sixth.

It was the freshman's third triple in the last two days and fourth extra-base hit in her last four games.

But continuing the theme of the night, MC left Blades-Moore stranded at third.

Kronberg had little trouble with Shasta in the sixth, but the seventh inning was her fourth time through the Knights' order.

"Shasta's a good team," Cassady said. "You give any team a chance to see a pitcher four times and they'll probably figure it out.

"You need a lot of things to go your way in a situation like that."

With two runners on and one out, Shasta's Amanda Schuler sent a line drive to the left field wall, tying the game.

Kronberg almost worked herself out of the jam -- getting a flyout to right for the second out -- but Michael Eustance singled home the winning run.

"That was a softball game," Cassady said. "I told them if we play that way all year we'll be in a lot of games."

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