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Gloomy forecast: She-Devils' playoff hopes all but over with loss to Rams

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
Fresno City's (11) Stefani Nomura is tagged out as she slides into home plate, by Merced's(3) catcher Sam Bussey, in the top of the first inning, in a game at Merced College on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 afternoon.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG Fresno City's (11) Stefani Nomura is tagged out as she slides into home plate, by Merced's(3) catcher Sam Bussey, in the top of the first inning, in a game at Merced College on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 afternoon. Merced Sun-Star

The Merced College softball team's paper-thin playoff chances may have dissolved with Tuesday afternoon's rain showers.

The slick ball proved elusive as the She-Devils committed five errors in a disastrous 10-4 loss to Fresno City at She-Devil Diamond.

"We knew we had no margin for error going into this game," MC coach Suzanne Burrola said. "Five errors that resulted in five unearned runs. That was the difference.

"You take them away and it's a 5-4 game."

Equally frustrating were the plays her team just didn't make.

While the errors continually put the She-Devils (9-5 Central Valley Conference, 22-16) in a bad position, there were numerous opportunities to limit the Rams' damage or avoid it all together.

"Nobody stepped up and made a play to stop the bleeding," Burrola said. "Nobody made the extra effort. You could tell that when they were getting extra bases on us after the errors."

The defense wasn't the only phase of the game affected by the weather.

MC starting pitcher Nicole Blades had to endure the heaviest of the downpour in the top of the third inning.

With two out and two aboard, Blades couldn't get a decent grip on the ball.

The umpires finally called a delay in the game, but not before the damage was done.

A wild pitch allowed one run to score and then Blades walked Candace VanHoorebeke on four pitches.

She threw a fifth straight ball and then -- seemingly just trying to get something in the strikezone -- fed a pitch right down the pipe to Catherine Cousins.

Cousins laced a two-run double to the center field wall, putting the Rams (13-1, 38-6) up 4-0.

"We were prepared to play, but we weren't ready for the weather," said pitcher Lindsey Oexle, who relieved Blades. "It was tough conditions for anybody to get a grip on the ball."

Tina Enos (2 for 4) helped MC trim the lead, driving in two and scoring a pair of runs.

MC threatened to get back into the game a number of times, but went just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

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