The San Diego Section softball playoffs have been kind to defending division champions Bonita Vista Barons and Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders so far, but it hasn’t exactly been easy.
Top-seeded Bonita Vista advanced to Thursday’s Division II semifinals against the second-seeded Rancho Bernardo Broncos after scoring narrow victories in their opening two post-season matches. Game time is 5:15 p.m. at the Poway USA Sportsplex.
The Barons opened first round play in the double-elimination bracket by defeating ninth-seeded Mt. Carme, 5-4, last Thursday and topped fourth-seeded Scripps Ranch, 7-5, on Saturday.
The two playoff wins raised Bonita Vista’s season record to 22-4-1. Rancho Bernardo takes a 23-7 record into Thursday’s semis.
Of the seven South County teams to qualify for this year’s section playoffs, Otay Ranch (the No. 5 seed in Division I) and Mater Dei Catholic (the No. 3 seed in Division IV) both remain in championship contention entering the week.
Otay Ranch dropped a 5-0 decision to fourth-seeded Poway (20-9) last Thursday, then edged eighth-seeded Mission Hills (16-12-1) in Saturday’s second round. The Mustangs (22-10-1) will meet second-seeded Rancho Buena Vista (20-7) in Tuesday’s elimination round.
Mater Dei Catholic opened defense of the Division IV title by claiming a pair of narrow 1-0 wins to advance to Thursday’s Division IV semifinals against top-seeded Francis Parker (21-2). Game time is 12:30 p.m. at the Poway USA Sportsplex.
In games last Saturday, ninth-seeded Olympian bowed out of this year’s Division III playoffs following a 2-0 setback to fifth-seeded San Dieguito Academy.
Bonita Vista, which finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the section, had to score dramatic come-from-behind victories in its two playoff games.
The Barons trailed Mt. Carmel, 4-0, but chipped away with one run in the bottom of the third inning and three in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game before walking off the field with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Hannah Flipped tripled and scored two runs while teammate Alex Vargas hit a home run, drove in two runs and scored once. Ashley Quidolit and Carolyn Wright each collected on RBI in the cliff-hanger contest.
Freshman Izzy Ortiz went the distance in the pitching circle for the Barons, scattering six hits and coughing up two home runs.
Bonita Vista committed two errors in the match-up against the Sundevils (12-14).
In Saturday’s game, the visiting Falcons went ahead with two runs in the top of the third inning but the hosts came back with a fury by scoring six times in the bottom of the frame. Scripps Ranch (17-11) made the game close on the scoreboard by adding two more runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Vargas slammed two doubles while Flippen and Kaylynn Lopez-Liu each drove in a pair of runs.
Ortiz gave up 10 hits and five earned runs but managed to complete the game to raise her season record to 18-1 with a 2.29 earned-run average.
Quidolit (.575) and Flippen (.516) lead the Barons in hitting average.
Rancho Bernardo has yet to allow a run in two playoff games after defeating seventh-seeded San Marcos (1-0 in the first round) and sixth-seeded Steele Canyon (2-0 in the second round).
Bonita Vista defeated RB, 8-3, in a Falcon Fiesta tournament semifinal game on April 6.
Mater Dei Catholic was pushed to the limit in Saturday’s second round game against second-seeded La Jolla Country Day before emerging with a 1-0 victory in nine innings. Kelly White, who went the last five innings, and Alexis Morales, who started the game, combined to post 12 strikeouts.
Lindsey Finch leads MDC with a .500 hitting average, followed by Amanda Hernandez (.433) and Avery Finch (.412).
The Crusaders finished 6-4 in Mesa League play, trailing league champion Bonita Vista (Division II) and runner-up Otay Ranch (Division I). MDC coach Mike Centrullo lauded his team’s play against the Barons and Mustangs — and the rest of the Mesa League.
“We played some tough teams from higher enrollment divisions all season and that helped us prepare for the playoffs,” Centrullos said. “Playing teams like Bonita Vista and Otay Ranch, in particular, prepared us for anything we would see in Division IV.”
Around the horn
In Otay Ranch’s win over Mission Hills, Kalalaelisa Toomalatau boomed a game-winning three-run triple in the seventh inning to help rescue her team from a 5-3 deficit. Maria Aguirre picked up the complete game victory.
Olympian, which upset eighth-seeded University City in the play-in round, dropped an 8-4 decision to top-seeded Santana in last Thursday’s opening round of double-elimination play. The Eagles finished the season 7-14.
Semifinal update: Barons, Crusaders land in CIF finals ... again
Mater Dei Catholic will go for its fourth consecutive Division IV championship after defeating Francis Parker, 3-0, on Thursday. Freshman Kelly White pitched a complete game shutout.
The Crusaders will play Valley Center, which eliminated Francis Parker in the ensuing challenger bracket final, at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at UCSD.
Bonita Vista will defend its Division II title after edging Rancho Bernardo, 18-17, in comeback fashion in a wild high-scoring game. Aaliyah Jordan hit a grand slam home run in the first inning but the Barons trailed 11-4 in the top of the third inning, 15-7 in the sixth and 17-14 as they came up to their final at bat.
Joselle Nicolas proved to be the heroine of the marathon 3-hour, 15-minute game when she drove in teammate Alex Vargas with the winning run.
Kaylynn Lopez-Liu supported the BVHS comeback effort with three hits and four RBI. Jordan led the winners with seven RBI.
The Barons will draw RB in a championship rematch on Saturday (4:30 p.m. start) after the Broncos eliminated Scripps Ranch, 5-1, in the challenger bracket final.
Rancho Bernardo victimized Bonita Vista pitching for 20 hits while the Barons rapped out 17 hits against the Broncos. The teams combined for eight errors.
Otay Ranch's playoff run ended at 2-3 following a 7-4 loss to RBV on Tuesday.