Steve Cassady said the nightcap of Thursday's doubleheader with College of the Sequoias would be a test of his team's perseverance.
For the first time all season, the Merced College softball team found itself out of the top spot in the Central Valley Conference standings after a 7-3 loss in the opener.
Cassady got the response he was looking for.
The She-Devils pounded out five runs on seven hits in the first three innings, never giving COS a glimmer of hope in the 5-0 victory.
"It was a test," Cassady said. "It's so easy to fall into the momentum of the day.
"But we treated them as two separate games and took it to them in the second."
With the win, MC (15-3 CVC, 31-15) guaranteed itself a share of the CVC title -- Cassady's fifth in 21 seasons.
The Giants (14-3 CVC, 28-18-1) can still split the title if they defeat Fresno City next week.
Either way, the She-Devils will enter the playoffs as the CVC's No.1 seed after winning the season series with COS, 2-1.
The win also likely secured MC a first-round home game in the playoffs.
"I think we do well under pressure," pitcher Kristen Kronberg said. "Losing the first game gave us an extra drive for this one.
"With all the experience that we had returning, it's nice to see an accomplishment like winning the conference title."
Kronberg played a big part in securing that title, pitching shutout ball and scattering nine hits in six-plus innings.
Megan McColloch got touched up a bit on the mound in the opener, but more than contributed at the plate.
McColloch drove in two runs in each game, going a combined 5 for 7 in the twinbill.
"It was a big release getting those early runs (in the second game)," McColloch said. "Today showed that as long as we stick together, we can do anything.
"Winning conference was just a stepping stone. We want more.
"It still means a lot, though."
Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 385-2476.