ATWATER -- Tori Castillo didn't exactly heed her coach's advice.
With two on, two out and his team down a run to Merced in the bottom of the seventh, Buhach Colony coach Bobby Dallas called upon Castillo to pinch-hit.
"I told her don't wait," said Dallas. "As a pinch-hitter you don't need to take a pitch.
"I wanted her to go up there swinging."
Instead, Castillo dug herself an 0-2 hole by watching consecutive pitches catch the outside corner.
Then with an excuse-me swing, she barely caught a piece of a Taylor Gross rise ball to stay alive.
And then out of nowhere, Castillo roped the very next pitch over the right fielder's head for a walk-off double -- preserving Buhach's chance at an undefeated CCC campaign with a 4-3 victory.
"After I fouled the ball off, I got a huge adrenaline rush," Castillo said. "I don't even remember hitting the ball, it was all adrenaline at that point.
"I didn't even watch the ball. All I was thinking was, 'I need to get to second.' "
With the win, BC (9-0 CCC, 17-7 overall) assured itself a spot in the postseason, while Merced was pushed to the brink of elimination.
Merced (4-4 CCC, 14-7-1) trails second-place Atwater by three games with four games to play.
"We had a chance to win and we didn't hold them," Merced coach Bart McAfee said. "The girl hit the ball, there's not much else to say."
Merced turned in a tremendous effort against the defending league champs, making the loss all the more painful.
Keeping Buhach off balance all game with an effective changeup, Gross limited BC to six hits while striking out eight.
A Lindsi Cosyns run-scoring single gave Merced an early lead.
She helped put Merced back on top in the fifth, knocking in Erika Marmolejo after a Buhach error to put her team up 3-2.
It remained that way until Castillo's heroics in the seventh.
"Tori is a very good hitter, but she just hasn't had a lot of opportunities to get in there," Dallas said. "There's nothing harder to do in softball than coming in in the bottom of the seventh with two on, two out and you've been sitting on your butt the whole game.
"She did a phenomenal job."
Even without listening to her coach.
Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central California Conference
BUHACH COLONY 4
At Buhach Colony
MERCED 010 020 0 -- 3 8 1
BUHACH COLONY 000 200 2 -- 4 6 3
Taylor Gross and Kandice Mathis. Alex Molina and Brittany Jantz. WP -- Molina. LP -- Gross.
MERCED -- Leslie Grissom 2-4 (R), Erika Marmolejo 2-4 (2B, RBI), Kandice Mathis 2-3.
BUHACH COLONY -- Cassie Kalapsa 2-3, Brianna Fulkerson 2-3, Tori Castillo 2B (2 RBI).
Records: Merced 4-4 CCC, 14-7-1; Buhach Colony 9-0 CCC, 17-7.