Sat, May 28 2011 01:24 AM Posted By: John Philip Wyllie
The Bonita Vista High School softball team found itself once again knocking on history’s door, and this time broke it open with a tenuous 1-0 victory over 10th-seeded West Hills in Thursday’s San Diego Section winners bracket final to finally reach high school softball’s promised land: the CIF championship game.
In history-making fashion, the top-seeded Barons (34-1) will rematch against the Wolf Pack (18-10-1) in Saturday’s Division II championship game at UC San Diego.
The CIF title tilt is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.
Bonita Vista finally cleared the final hurdle that the 2002 Baron squad could not do after carrying a 31-0 record into the semifinals, only to have its fantastic season come to an abrupt end.
One of the keys to what has proved to be an elusive championship game appearance could be the pitching of junior Jennifer Hartman. The crafty Baron ace has been on the mound and in the spotlight through much of the season while amassing an impressive 24-1 record.
Hartman was in that familiar role when the Barons bombarded Steele Canyon (11-1 on May 19) and Pt. Loma (10-1 on May 20) in their opening two CIF playoff appearances.
She scattered seven hits in Thursday’s winners bracket final.
Although she is not blindingly fast, her well above average speed and her wide array of pitches generally keeps batters guessing. Hartman has mastered the art of throwing a rise, a drop, a curve and a change-up. She also has a talent for keeping cool under pressure. She may have to rely on that should the Barons find themselves in the pressure cooker environment of a CIF final.
“My best pitch depends on the day and the hitter,” Hartman offered during practice on Tuesday. “It changes every game, so I go with whatever is working. Where the batters are standing in the box often determines where I want to throw it and how.”
A 3-1 loss on May 4 to Mesa League rival Hilltop is the only blemish on the Barons otherwise perfect season. The Barons didn’t realize it at the time, but that loss might just prove to be a blessing in disguise.
“I think we learned from that game that any team can lose on any given day,” Hartman said. “That loss helped us to push harder and helped us to realize that you can’t go out there and expect to win. You have to work for it.”
Should the Barons reach Saturday’s division championship game, they would arrive with a rock-solid lineup from top to bottom that features plenty of firepower. Kayla Jordan, Celinna Cosio, Alex Vargas, Hannah Flippen, Anissa Pinedo and Ruby Elliot all boast higher than .400 hitting averages. Between them they should supply plenty of run support.
Bonita Vista capitalized on five errors committed by eighth-seeded Steele Canyon, with Hartman firing a four-hitter in the five-inning run-rule outing to officially jump-start this year’s playoff drive. Jordan, slamming a triple and home run, drove in four runs while Elliot and Cosio each picked up two RBI.
Hartman scattered four hits in the second round victory over fifth-seeded Point Loma. Cosio homered en route to collecting three RBI while Jordan (triple) drove in a pair of runners and Flippen (double) and Jaycee Carlson each notched one RBI.
In Thursday’s game against West Hills, Flippen scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the third inning. The Wolf Pack out-hit the Barons 7-2 but committed three errors. The winning run for Bonita Vista scored on one of those errors. Hartman, however, led her team with seven strikeouts to shut down West Hills.
If Hartman can continue doing on the mound what she has done consistently all year, the Barons could finally get their long-awaited softball crown.
For playoff updates, visit the Web site at www.cifsds.org.
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