The Merced College softball team’s focus is entirely on the Central Valley Conference title with two weeks to play in the regular season.
The She-Devils (21-13, 13-4 CVC) have been atop the league standings virtually from start to finish, but were passed up by Taft (16-4) over the weekend thanks to a Cerro Coso doubleheader forfeit. The Cougars have one game remaining on the docket, while MC has one final regularly-scheduled game a trio of makeups with third-place Sequoias (12-5 CVC).
Merced won the season series with Taft, so if the She-Devils can run the table and force a tie, the league’s top seed would be there’s. The flipside of that, is a couple losses to Sequoias could drop MC down to third with no automatic berth into the postseason. With things so tight at the top of the league standings, there’s little margin for error. Still, Suzanne McGhee’s squad proved itself more than capable of accomplishing the feat with a doubleheader split against NorCal No.1 and state No. 2 San Mateo on Sunday.
It’s the perfect time for a confidence boost, not to mention some playoff-résumé padding, as Merced prepares for its final push. San Mateo (26-5) entered the weekend with just four losses on the season and easily could have been swept. Six She-Devil errors opened the door for three unearned runs in the opener as MC fell 7-6. The setback didn’t seem to bother the She-Devils as they led start to finish in a 5-3 nightcap victory.
Brianna Lopez limited the state’s third-ranked offense to two earned on five hits while striking out nine. Marta Mitchell (2 for 4, R, two RBI) and Jennifer Moreno (2 for 4, double, RBI) provided her some offensive support.
Even if the worst-case scenario plays out and MC finishes third in the league standings, the win should be a nice boost to Merced’s RPI. The She-Devils currently rank 13th in Northern California’s RPI rankings, with a minimum of 16 teams making the playoffs.
The She-Devils will travel to Reedley today and then have nine days to prepare for its showdown with Sequoias.
MC swimming ready to host
The Bay Valley Conference Swimming Championships will be coming to Merced this year.
The Blue Devils gave a taste of how the meet will go, hosting a fully-loaded Last Chance Meet last week. Six different schools participated as the teams get set for the postseason.
The three-day BVC championships will begin April 20. The MC men are looking for their first title since 2015. The women’s team last brought home a banner in 2012, when it completed a run of five consecutive championships.
With a comfortable three-game cushion atop the CVC standings, the Merced College baseball team will take a break from conference play and make its annual trip down south for the Allan Hancock Tournament during spring break.
The Blue Devils will get to see some quality competition with tilts against a pair of SoCal top-20 teams in No. 8 College of the Canyons and No. 19 Cuesta. MC will round out the three-day tournament with a game against East Los Angeles.