Softball Edges Out Sac City to Open State Tournament

Mounties grind it out with big games from Briana Wheeler, Quinn De Avila

Mountie+softball+team+cheer+for+Quinn+De+Avila%2C+player+22%2C+as+she+runs+to+home+base+during+State+Championships+at+the+Dean+and+Adah+Gay+Sports+Complex+at+Bakersfield+College+on+May+17%2C+2019.+Photo+Credit%3A+Abraham+Navarro%2FSAC.Media.

Mountie softball team cheer for Quinn De Avila, player 22, as she runs to home base during State Championships at the Dean and Adah Gay Sports Complex at Bakersfield College on May 17, 2019. Photo Credit: Abraham Navarro/SAC.Media.

The mighty Mt. SAC softball team began the CCCAA state tournament today against the Sacramento City College Panthers. Despite falling behind in the second inning, the Mounties stayed in it the entire game and were able to grind out a 2-1 victory in what was truly a pitchers’ duel.

In the circle for Mt. SAC was their ace Briana Wheeler, who came into the tournament with a 0.78 ERA and a 21-1 record, while the Panthers’ starter Danielle Reyes sported a 1.89 ERA and a 14-5 record.

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Briana Wheeler winds up for a pitch at the Dean and Adah Gay Sports Complex on May 17. Photo Credit: Abraham Navarro/SAC.Media.

After a scoreless first inning, Wheeler found herself in a jam in the top of the second after walking Morgan Conner, who would later score on an RBI single from Madi Furton. Despite giving up the early lead, Wheeler kept her composure and was able to keep the deficit to 1-0.

“I knew I had to just fix some things because I was getting behind or sometimes not breaking the ball as much,” Wheeler said. “I knew I just had to adjust and from there, my teammates would just have my back.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the Mounties were unusually quiet throughout the first four innings, due in part to Reyes’ effective changeup that kept Mt. SAC on their toes.

It wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Mounties would get on the scoreboard off a solo home run from Ally Longtree to even the score at one a piece.

“I knew we needed someone to get on, I needed to get on somehow,” Longtree said on her mindset during her at-bat. “When it was hit off the bat, I knew it was gone because I know myself and my team.”

Quinn De Avila would come up big in the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot of her own to center field that would give the Mounties the 2-1 lead late in the game. They were now three outs away from taking the first step to defending their state championship.

“I wanted to do it for my team and my pitcher, who was throwing a hell of a game,” De Avila said. “Our team is just all one unit, so it’s whatever I can do to help one another.”

The Panthers however, refused to go down quietly. After Wheeler made quick work of the first two batters, a walk and an error would suddenly put runners on first and third for Sac City. The tying run was now 60 feet away from home, but that would not phase the Pitcher of the Year. Wheeler would proceed to strike out Bella Munoz to put away the Panthers and give the Mounties the 2-1 victory.

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Ciara Granado warms up at the Dean and Adah Gay Sports Complex for the State Championship on May 17. Photo Credit: Abraham Navarro/SAC.Media.

“It’s a complete team effort what we had and a few of the girls really stepped up, one of them being Quinn,” head coach Ruby Rojas said. “This is just the way the game goes, especially at this level and at this state championship. It’s always going to be tight ball games, and it’s all going to depend on who’s going to clutch up first and who’s going to stay relaxed the entire time.”

Mt. SAC now looks ahead to the second round of the state tournament against Palomar College. The Mounties have previously met the Comets twice this season, with both teams each winning a game.