It was a beautiful day for softball Friday. And while Burlingame only got to play in the sunshine for three innings, it was enough to advance to the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section Division II softball playoffs.
No. 9-seed Burlingame (13-9) picked up its rain-delayed game with No. 8 Mills at a new location Friday at Hillsdale High School, after getting six innings in the book Wednesday in Millbrae before the delay was called with the score tied 5-5.
“We all just really wanted to win and move on to the next round,” Burlingame sophomore Sydney Fleming said.
The Lady Panthers rallied for a 10-6 win, overcoming a triple play in the top of the seventh to win it in extra innings. Burlingame sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the eighth, taking the lead on a two-run single by Fleming.
The sophomore stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and laced a 3-0 pitch off the third baseman’s glove and into left field to score Sophia Palacio and Sydney Crespo to give the Panthers an 8-6 lead. Fleming said she ordinarily would take a 3-0 pitch, but saw a similar count earlier in the game and took a really hittable pitch.
Burlingame’s No. 3 hitter vowed not to let that happen again.
“Then I knew with this pitcher, if it was a good one that was the only good one I was going to get,” Fleming said.
Chloe McNamara went on to add a two-run single to give Burlingame some breathing room. Then starting pitcher Kailey O’Connor did the rest, setting down the last seven batters she faced to record the eight-inning complete-game victory.
Resuming the game Friday made a world of difference for O’Connor, who struggled Wednesday to get a grip on the ball with the poor elements. She issued six walks overall, including five through the first five innings Wednesday.
“She’s pitched really well this year,” Burlingame head coach John Saucedo said. “Solid. … So, that’s why, when that rain was coming down, I was like, ‘That’s not Kailey at all.’”
O’Connor is part of Burlingame’s sophomore battery, along with Fleming behind the plate. The right-hander got some big-time help from another sophomore with a clutch defensive play to end the sixth by second baseman Adele Friedland.
Mills (16-6) had taken a 6-5 lead on the previous play when sophomore Emma McGraw scored on an infield error. Then with runners at the corners and two outs, Cassandra Stanley hit a flair into shallow right-center.
“I just saw it coming and I was like, ‘That’s going to be short for the center fielder,” Friedland said. “Honestly, I thought it was going to drop in.”
Friedland got a good first step, though, and tracked down the fading pop-up with a running catch, a play that Saucedo said saved the game.
The play of the game, though, was Mills’ triple play in the top of the seventh.
It was a crazy play that saw two outfielders involved in the play, but also allowed Burlingame to tie the score to ultimately force extra innings.
“I’ll be honest with you, Mills did a great job,” Saucedo it. “It was a great play. They should be proud. … I was pretty impressed myself.”
With the bases loaded and no outs, Burlingame’s Allie Condon lined a one-hopper to right fielder Nicole Boie, who promptly gunned to first base to cut down Condon for the first out. Condon picked up an RBI as Fleming scored from third.
But as the runner from second, Sam Palacio, made the turn around third, Mills first baseman Olivia Williams, threw behind her to third baseman Stanley, who chased her down and applied a tag for the second out.
Then, Burlingame’s McNamara tried to advance from second to third, but Mills left fielder Victoria Williams snuck in to cover third and took a throw from Stanley to complete the 9-3-5-7 triple play.
“It was like our momentum picked up and everyone was fired up,” Stanley said. “We weren’t really sad anymore. Because at the time we were sort of down. But then that picked us up and helped us to keep going.”
With the win, Burlingame advanced to the Division II quarterfinals to face No. 1 Valley Christian. The game is scheduled for Saturday at Hawes Park in Redwood City at 3 p.m., weather permitting. Scheduling updates can be found at www.cifccs.org.