Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Hillsdale pitcher Eryn McCoy limited Capuchino to just four hits in the Knights’ 5-0 win, which clinched a berth in the CCS playoffs.
By the way Hillsdale head coach Randy Metheany was hollering in the postgame huddle, you wouldn’t think his Knights had just scored a shut-out victory over Capuchino.
But Metheany took a page out of the Crash Davis playbook by chewing out his players after one of their best games of the year. Hillsdale (9-4 PAL Bay, 19-7 overall) downed Capuchino 5-0 Tuesday, clinching a berth in the Central Coast Section playoffs. And it was Hillsdale’s 2-1 loss in last year’s CCS Division II semifinal against Mt. Pleasant — in which a couple early errors led to both the opponent’s runs — that inspired Tuesday’s spirited postgame pep-talk.
“It’s not about being mad. It’s being disappointed in the way we’re playing the game,” Metheany said. “You can’t play in the Central Coast Section … lackadaisical and, ‘Oh, we’ll get it back.’ You don’t get it back. It’s a 21-out game. You give up five or six outs and all of a sudden you’re beat. Last year we made some physical mistakes, which happens, and it came back to haunt us. So, I just wanted to let them know that they have to come focused and ready to think about softball and not lollygagging in the dugout.”
One Knights player who certainly isn’t a lollygagger is starting pitch Eryn McCoy. The sophomore right-hander impressed Tuesday with a four-hit shutout to improve her record to 15-6. McCoy set down 15 of 16 batters to start the game and retired 11 in a row after surrendering a second-inning hit to Cap senior Kaitlin Chang.
“She’s been pitching a long time and she’s a gamer,” Metheany said. “Eryn’s a tough kid. … I feel bad for her sometimes because we get lackadaisical like we did today. We got lackadaisical. Then that puts pressure on Eryn and that’s not fair to [her].”
McCoy allowed just two Mustangs runners to reach scoring position in the game and never allowed the tying run to reach base throughout.
Hillsdale got on the board in the first inning by virtue of a poor defensive showing by Capuchino (8-5, 15-10). At one point in the inning, Mustangs starting pitcher Rafaela Dade fired 13 consecutive strikes and all she had to show for it was a failed double-play grounder and a two-run rally for Hillsdale.
“My goal is just to always get ahead and stay ahead of each batter,” Dade said.
That she did, but Hillsdale still cashed it. Junior Meagan Wells led off the inning with a single. But when Riley Wells followed with a potential double-play grounder on the infield, the throw to second base sailed into the outfield to put Hillsdale runners at first and third. Riley Wells stole second on the next pitch before Sharona Mataele flared a two-run single to center.
The Knights added a run in the fourth without ever hitting a ball hard. Bailey Nestor, who was 2 for 3 in the game, led off with a bloop single to center. McCoy followed with an infield single to move Nestor to second. Kelly Miller bunted both runners over before Nestor scored on an RBI groundout by Kara Ronberg.
In the fifth, Hillsdale scored two more. After loading the bases on two walks and a hit batsman to start the inning, cleanup hitter Talya Franco launched a long double to left to score Meagan and Riley Wells, giving the Knights a 5-0 lead to cap the day’s scoring.
McCoy did the rest, relying on exceptional command of her screwball, curveball and changeup. She finished the day with five strikeouts and 12 groundouts.
“I came out here, trusted my defense, trusted my team and we played a good game,” McCoy said.
With the win, the Knights are assured of at least a third-place tie with Cap in the PAL Bay Division standings. With the Knights sweeping the two-game season series from the Mustangs — Hillsdale previously defeated Capuchino 5-2 on April 10 — a Knights loss Thursday could mean, at worst, they would get the third of three automatic Bay Division bids to the CCS playoffs.
“We were tied for third with [Cap],” McCoy said. “We knew we had to come out and compete … but we came out here, proved ourselves and hit the ball.”
Having entered play Tuesday in a three-way tie with Cap and Half Moon Bay, the Knights remain in a second-place tie with Half Moon Bay as the Cougars downed Woodside Tuesday 3-0.