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Oh, so close
Rosamond scores in bottom of seventh to edge Patriots
IRVINE • A few close plays and a few mistakes. On Friday, they separated a champion and a runner-up.
The Hesperia Christian softball team gave up a walk-off run in the CIF-Southern Section Division VII finals as the No. 1-seeded Patriots fell to No. 2 Rosamond 2-1 at Deanna Manning Stadium.
Tied 1-1, Amanda Conroy drew a walk from Patriots junior ace Sierra Rick to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Jocelyn Soria attempted a sacrifice bunt, and catcher Hannah Morin picked it up and threw it to second without hesitation, but the runner was safe on a close call. Caitlyn McVey then singled to load the bases.
Next batter Yesenia Soliz hit a hopper to Rick, who threw home for an out. Morin quickly went to first looking for a double play, but second baseman Helena Harrity dropped the throw as Soria rounded third and scored the winning run.
“It was nerve-racking, but we could have pulled it through,” Rick said. “We just made a few mistakes here and there, but we can’t blame them on anyone. ... I’m really proud of this season. I’m even more proud of my teammates. We worked so hard this year.”
The game was expected to be a pitching duel between Rick and Roadrunners right-hander Cassie Benson, and it turned out to be just that. Rick (24-2), who has pitched every inning of every game this year for Hesperia Christian, came into Friday with a 0.24 ERA and 209 strikeouts, according to MaxPreps.com. Benson had a 1.22 ERA with 232 strikeouts.
Rick finished with five strikeouts to Benson’ 10, and each gave up four hits — all singles — and a walk.
The Roadrunners had outscored their four opponents 82-2 in the playoffs entering Friday, including 28-0 against Academy for Academic Excellence and 17-2 against Victor Valley Christian.
But it was the Patriots (24-2) who broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth. Anjelica Rosales got on base on an error, and Sierra Murphy singled to center. Center fielder McVey made an error and the runners advanced to second and third.
Rick walked to load the bases, and Harrity hit a grounder to third baseman Soliz. Soliz dove forward and grabbed the ball, but she couldn’t throw it fast enough to get any runners out as Rosales scored.
However, the Roadrunners (22-7) quickly got even in the bottom of the frame. Soria opened the inning with a single and reached second on a sacrifice bunt. Soliz then popped to center as the ball dropped between the shortstop and center fielder to score Soria.
Hesperia Christian’s Ashley McCloud was the only player to finish with multiple hits as she went 2-for-4. The senior shortstop, who moved to the High Desert from Spokane, Wash., two years ago, led the team in batting average (.571), on-base percentage (.667), home runs (9) and slugging percentage (1.234).
“Nervous, excited, every emotion you could expect was there,” McCloud said. “We knew it was our turn (to win) this year.”
Losing to Baptist Christian 7-6 in the quarterfinals last year, the Patriots reached Friday’s championship game by taking down West Shores 24-0, St. Genevieve 17-2, Bishop 4-1 and Kern Valley 1-0.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” McCloud said about her two years at Hesperia Christian. “I’ve got the best coaches and I’ve got the best team ever.”
The last time Hesperia Christian had gone to the CIF championship game was in 1994 when current head coach Christy Newman was a pitcher. The Patriots fell short in a similar manner 15 years ago as they lost 6-5 to Linfield Christian in 13 innings. Although Newman didn’t fulfill her long-time goal of winning the title, she’s happy with the way her players competed on Friday.
“It’s one of my proudest moments with this team — a special team,” Newman said. “Even with the loss, I’m proud of their accomplishment.”
H. Christian 000 010 0 — 1 4 1
Rosamond 000 010 1 — 2 4 3
Rick and Morin; Benson and Quattlebaum. WP — Benson. LP — Rick (24-2).
Tomoya Shimura can be reached at email@example.com or 951-6281.