Golden Valley’s Vanessa Saltos
Ross Cruickshanks was doing everything he could not to show his frustration. The Golden Valley High softball coach watched as Del Campo loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning with a single and two Cougar errors.
Golden Valley’s one-run lead was in jeopardy.
“The couple errors bothered me, but I’m trying not to let (the players) know it bothered me,” Cruickshanks said.
Cruickshanks’ frustration quickly turned to elation as Del Campo’s Skylar Mitchell hit a shallow pop up that GV left fielder Kadince Felix chased down and started a triple play with a throw to second base to throw out the runner who had wandered too far off the bag. Second baseman Maddy Stokes then fired the ball to Maddie Martinez at third base to force out the runner on third, who broke for home on the pop up, to complete the triple play.
Just like that, the No. 3 seeded Cougars escaped with their one-run lead and eventually held on for a 3-2 win to remain in the winners bracket of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs at the Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton.
“You want to just get an out there,” Cruickshanks said. “In my head, I’m thinking at least we can go extra innings. I was in shock. That’s the first time I’ve seen a triple play since I’ve been coaching.”
Felix said she just didn’t want to let her team down.
“As soon as I caught it, I threw it to second because it was the closest base to me and I saw the runner off the bag,” she said. “I was so excited. I went straight to (pitcher) Marissa (Bertuccio). She was so happy.”
Bertuccio had to pitch out of another jam in the seventh inning as No. 2 Del Campo (22-5) had the tying and winning runs in scoring position. However, Bertuccio got a ground out to end the game.
After the game, Bertuccio apologized to her teammates because she said she didn’t feel her best. The senior still went the distance in the circle, scattering seven hits and striking out five to improve to 27-3 with a 0.34 ERA on the season.
“She looked pretty good to me,” Cruichshanks said. “She was gritty. That’s a good team we played. They can hit the ball.”
Golden Valley scored all three of its runs early in the game.
With two runners on in the first inning, Vanessa Saltos smashed a double to right field to score Martinez. When the relay throw was bobbled, Bertuccio came around to score to give GV a 2-0 lead.
“I really wanted to get at least one run in,” Saltos said. “Two would be great. With two strikes on me, I couldn’t strike out. I was just super happy and glad to help my team.”
Naomi Moore came up with a big two-out single to drive in Felix in the second inning to extend the lead to 3-0.
Saltos said there were some big-time nerves as Golden Valley tried to hold on to the lead late.
“The nerves were at its highest than it’s ever been all season,” she said. “I think we all played well through it though.”
Golden Valley (27-3) will face No. 4 Vanden (19-6), which upset undefeated Oakdale (25-5-1) 2-0 on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Arnaiz Softball Complex.
Los Banos 4, Central Catholic 3 in Stockton — Miguel Espana delivered a walk-off, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Tigers (26-1) their 22nd consecutive win at Stagg High School.
The No. 1 seed Los Banos will play No. 2 Casa Roble on Wendesday night at 7 at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi.
Casa Roble 11, Livingston 6 in Stockton — The Wolves (19-11) lost despite cranking out 10 hits. Celso Sanchez finished with three hits. Teammate Jaime Diaz had two hits and scored twice and Cesar Avila drove in two runs and scored two runs for Livingston.
The Wolves will face Central Catholic in an elimination game on Wednesday at Tony Zupo Field in Lodi.