Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
After getting a force-out at home plate, Hillsdale catcher MacKenzie Driscoll throws to first to complete one of three double plays for the Knights during their 5-0 loss to Pioneer in the semifinals of the CCS Division II tournament Wednesday in San Jose.
Half Moon Bay right fielder Helen Sewart relays the ball back into the infield during the Cougars' 10-0 loss to Santa Catalina in the CCS Division III semifinals Wednesday in San Jose.
SAN JOSE — For the second game in a row, the Hillsdale softball team got off to a shaky start.
But unlike in Saturday’s quarterfinal game against Presentation, there would be no rousing comeback in Wednesday’s CCS Division II semifinal game against Pioneer.
The second-seeded Mustangs scored three times in the bottom of the first inning, tacked on two more in the bottom of the sixth and then shut down the Knights’ bats as Pioneer posted a 5-0 win over third-seeded Hillsdale at San Jose’s PAL Stadium.
“[Pioneer is] a real good team,” said Hillsdale coach Randy Metheany. “That first inning kind of snuck up on us.”
Turns out Pioneer needed only one run because Mustangs pitcher Holly Azevedo was in control throughout. Hillsdale had only four hits and seven baserunners, hitting only three balls out of the infield all game long. They didn’t get a runner to third base until the top of the seventh inning.
“I thought [Azevedo] pitched well, but I didn’t think our plate discipline was very good,” Metheany said.
Hillsdale (21-8), which fell behind 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning, got its first baserunner when pitcher Eryn McCoy was hit by a pitch in the top of the second — the third time in two games she’s been hit. Bailey Nestor broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out double down the left-field line in the third, but was stranded there. Lauren Quirke picked up a two-out single in the fourth. Talia Franco was hit by a pitch to lead off the fifth, but when Nestor hit a bloop into shallow left field, the pinch runner for Franco only went halfway to second base, thinking it was going to be caught, and was easily thrown out.
The Knights had their best chance to score in the top of the seventh, down 5-0. With one out, McCoy reached on an error and Franco followed with an infield hit. A groundout moved the runners to second and third, but Nestor’s line drive was caught by the Pioneer shortstop to end the game.
Pioneer (24-4) put the pressure on the Hillsdale defense right from the start as Mustangs leadoff hitter Makenzie Drake blooped the first pitch she saw into shallow right field. Hillsdale right fielder Riley Wells had to come a long way, going into a slide on her knees. She got a glove on the ball, but couldn’t hold it and Drake was standing on second. Following a sacrifice bunt that moved Drake to third, Alexandra Luna drew a walk. Clean-up hitter Caitlyn Weisner came to the plate and on an 0-1 pitch, drilled a shot into the left-center field gap for a two-run triple. She would come home on a Maddie Carlson grounder to put the Mustangs up 3-0 after one.
After that, however, McCoy appeared to settle down. The sophomore allowed only three hits over the next four innings, getting a lot of help from her defense, which turned three double plays in the game.
“I think [McCoy] battled really well,” Metheany said. “Giving up three runs like that (in the first), she could have folded and she didn’t.”
Pioneer’s Lauren Garcia led off the second with a single, but Drake followed and hit a sharp grounder to Megan Wells at shortstop. She stepped on second for the first out and threw on to first for the double play.
In the fourth, Quirke caught a popup and then doubled the Mustang runner off second for another double play, and in the fifth, after Pioneer loaded the bases with one out, Megan Wells fielded a sharp grounder and fired home for the second out. Catcher MacKenzie Driscoll threw on to first, where Franco did the splits to record the final out of the inning.
“We made some real solid plays,” Metheany said.
The Mustangs, however, added some insurance runs in the sixth, scoring two more to all but put the game out of reach.
Despite the loss, Metheany was mostly satisfied with the way his team played.
“There was no give up,” Metheany said. “I’m proud of the kids. We had a great season.”
No. 1 Santa Catalina 10, No. 4 Half Moon Bay 0
Half Moon Bay hung with Santa Catalina for the first three innings, trailing just 1-0, but the top seed in the Division III tournament scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth and ended the game with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to end Half Moon Bay’s CCS run in the Division III semifinals.
The Half Moon Bay offense struggled with Santa Catalina pitcher Lauren Garcia, who held Half Moon Bay (22-8) to just one hit. Half Moon Bay managed just four baserunners for the game — with two reaching by error and a third by walk.
Santa Catalina (18-4-1) jumped on Half Moon Bay freshman pitcher Ally Sarabia in the first inning, scoring once, but Sarabia wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam, allowing just the one run.
Sarabia shut down Santa Catalina in innings two and three before the wheels came off in the fourth as Santa Catalina scored six runs on just three hits, taking advantage of a pair of Half Moon Bay errors, to take a 7-0 lead.
The game seemed destined to go at least to the sixth inning as Sarabia got two outs sandwiched around a walk. But back-to-back singles loaded the bases, back-to-back walks drove in a pair of runs to make it 9-0 before Rene Kausin ended things with a hard single up the middle.
Half Moon Bay’s only hit came in the top of the fourth when Angela Brazil singled to right.