Prep softball: Late home run helps San Marin repeat as MCAL champions
San Marin High junior Paige McIntosh entered the MCAL championship game Saturday with 15 career home runs. But her latest blast on the softball diamond was definitely a sweet 16th.
McIntosh's line-drive over the center field fence with a runner on second base in the fifth inning erased a one-run deficit and lifted the second-seeded Mustangs past sixth-seeded San Rafael 4-3 at San Marin. The MCAL title was the second in two years for San Marin.
"Honestly, I thought I was going to get intentionally walked," said McIntosh, who had nine home runs this season before her game-changing blast. "I'm pretty sure (San Rafael pitcher Sami Mericle) missed her spot but I just watched it all the way and did what I could."
The home run was one of the bigger plays for San Marin (17-4), but there were plenty of other instances in which the Mustangs kept their composure.
San Marin pitcher Hayley Gadzik, for instance, allowed a three-run home run by Olivia Dallara in the first inning but shut the door on San Rafael afterward. Her efforts included escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third inning.
"I felt good warming up and I felt good after that first inning," Gadzik said. "We were all a little nervous because we knew that San Rafael was going to bring their best game. And they definitely did. But after Paige's home run, it was just a huge weight off our shoulders and everyone just relaxed and we had fun after that."
"(McIntosh has) been
The Mustangs also had to overcome a strange turn of events which ended the bottom of the first inning. In that instance, a bases-loaded popup over the pitcher's circle which could have resulted in the infield-fly ruling being called instead became a double play when the ball was dropped but no runners tried to advance.
"We stayed pretty calm and kept our composure through it all," McIntosh said. "Everyone just knew the part that they had to do during the game and everyone executed perfectly."
For San Rafael (9-16), which defeated Marin Catholic and top-seeded Terra Linda to advance to the MCAL championship, any sense of disappointment paled in comparison to the sense of accomplishment the team felt.
"I feel that we played great," said Dallara, whose first swing of the bat sent the ball into the pine trees beyond the fence in right-center field. "We made a few errors here and there that kind of hurt us, but overall, we played well.
Nobody expected us to get this far but we did. And we did well."
"I am so proud of them," San Rafael coach Meagan Partee said. "It was unexpected for us to be here and I think that we have nothing to be ashamed of. I mean, they're the two-time champs now and we gave them a good game. We had the lead through the fifth, so that's a victory to me."
With the MCAL playoffs behind them, both teams will await word of who, when and where they will play when the North Coast Section playoffs fields are set on Sunday.
Hartmann said she thought a high seed for her team might be forthcoming.
"I'm hoping that (the MCAL title) does us pretty well," Hartmann said. "We had a really strong second half, which also should help. So I'm really hoping that it goes well."
Contact Dave Curtis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org