No. 6 seed San Rafael knocks off No. 1 Terra Linda to advance to championship game
It was a classic David versus Goliath and the San Rafael High softball team made sure that the legend rang true on Thursday against top-seeded Terra Linda. The No. 6 Bulldogs stunned the Trojans with a 4-1 victory in the MCAL semifinal at San Marin.
San Rafael will play Saturday for the MCAL championship against the winner of Redwood-San Marin, who will play Friday.
"I'm shocked, I'm shocked, in a good way. I'm overwhelmed because I'm so proud of them," San Rafael coach Meagan Partee said. "We didn't have the best record this year, so the fact that we can get into the postseason and just snap out of it, it's exciting to watch them pull it all together."
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Prep softball: MCAL playoffs - Redwood at Tam
|5/15/2013 -- The Redwood softball team beat Tamalpais in the Marin County Athletic League playoff game in Mill Valley, Calif. on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) Photo By: Alan Dep
/>After squeaking into the postseason, San Rafael (9-15) was riding high after its 18-2 slashing of Marin Catholic on Tuesday. The Bulldogs seized momentum early, scratching across a run in the first inning.
Sian Gamble reached first after a dropped third strike. Olivia Dallara doubled and Ashley Mellor hit a sharp grounder to short that wasn't fielded cleanly and Gamble came into score.
Layne Gamble reached on a walk to start the second inning. Sami Mericle laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached first when the throw went wide. Jenny Nguyen hit another hard grounder to third, but the throw was errant and Gamble crossed the plate.
"I thought not taking care of the ball early really cost us," Terra Linda coach
Brad Lucchi said. "I wasn't surprised by anything we saw from (San Rafael). We knew they're good team. On our side of the fence we just didn't take care of the ball."
With two outs in the fourth inning, Mericle singled to right. Sian Gamble walked and Nguyen singled up the middle to bring Mericle into score to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs did their part with Mericle in the circle and the defense keeping the Trojan bats at bay. Mericle went 31/3
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innings without allowing a hit and retired nine consecutive batters at one point.
"Mostly it was my defense, they were fielding everything," said Mericle, who yielded just the one run on seven hits and struck out three. "..."It's so much better to be pitching with runs on the board, our offense was great taking advantage of errors, getting solid hits."
TL's Genevieve Nielsen shot the gap to start the fifth inning for TL, but San Rafael center fielder cut the ball off and fired to second to cut down Nielsen trying to stretch a single into a double.
"We did really well, this is definitely one of the best games that we've played on defense," said Dallara, the shortstop. "Everybody backed everybody up. We definitely backed Sami up, she deserves it they did so well."
The Trojans (21-4) finally broke through in the sixth inning with a run when Macauley Prickett got on base. She bunted for a single and advanced to second when the throw was misplayed. She moved to third base on a groundout and came in to score on a wild pitch.
The Bulldogs swung any momentum Terra Linda might have had in the top of the seventh by getting the run back. Nguyen singled and Dallara ripped a double in the left-center gap and Nguyen was able to score from first.
A couple of singles gave Terra Linda a chance in the bottom of the seventh. With the Redwood Empire's all-time single-season home run record holder waiting on deck in Ross as the potential winning run, Mericle had to buckle down. Mericle got Cheyenne Cooper to pop out to short to complete the upset.
"That was terrifying, I worked on a lot of techniques for really calming down in those situations," Mericle said. "I sing songs in my head, I try really hard not to think about the pitches and just trusted my mechanics."
Ross and Prickett finished with two hits apiece for the Trojans. Freshman phenom Ashley Bottomley took the loss, giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits.
The playoffs are all about who peaks at the right time and the Bulldogs will try to keep the mojo going when they play for the MCAL championship.
"It's insane, TL has always been our rivals and I don't think we've beat them in the four years that I've been here," Mericle said. "It was a crazy good game, that might be the game of the season no matter what happens in the championship.
TODAYS SOFTBALL GAME VS NOVATO AS BEEN CANCELLED AND RESCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW (3/8) @ NOVATO, 3:30pm.
1/22, 1/23, 1/24, 1/29, 1/30, 1/31
4:00-5:30 ON THE TRACK
PRACTICE/TRYOUTS BEGIN FEBRUARY 4th AFTER SCHOOL