The new competition based format for the San Diego Section playoffs has been kind to several South County teams in 2013-14. The Southwest Raiders softball team appears to be the latest beneficiary after slugging its way to Friday's Division V championship game by virtue of an 11-1 victory against Calipatria in Thursday's semifinals at the Poway Sportsplex.
The top-seeded Raiders enter Friday's title game with a 14-7 record. They will play third-seeded Mountain Empire (16-4) after the Red Hawks eliminated fourth-seeded Foothills Christian in Thursday morning's semifinals.
The Raiders, who advanced to the division final with three consecutive wins in the double-elimination portion of bracket play, clubbed Foothills Christian, 19-5, in last Saturday's second-round/bracket play match-up after no-hitting eighth-seeded Borrego Springs, 3-1, in the opening round.
Friday's Division V championship game is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. at UC San Diego. It will precede the Division IV title game that pits top-seeded Bishop's (21-1) against fifth-seeded Central Union (17-14-1).
Friday's CIF final wil mark the third time that Southwest has advanced to a division championship game; the Raiders recorded runner-up finishes in both 1982-83 under coach Steve Wavra.
Southwest High School principal Lee Romero conceded the time has been overdue for a return trip to the section championship game.
“Our softball team has not made it to playoffs since 1989, much less making it to the CIF final game,” Romero noted. “We have a young team that has been improving every game. The entire Raider Family is excited for our ladies. Hard work has paid off for these athletes. Tomorrow¹s CIF Final game will be historic for our school. This is the furthest any Raider softball team has advanced in the CIF playoffs. And winning will be not only exciting but historic. We are very proud of our girls.”
Southwest scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and tacked on three more in the next frame to turn a tight 1-0 game the Raiders led into a rout. The game ended in the sixth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Priscilla Lopez went four-for-five, scored three runs and collected four RBI while Sarah Diaz and Michelle Lopez each drove in two runs on two hits. Olea also fired a three-hitter in the pitching circle.
Mountain Empire defeated Foothills Christian, 13-3, in a five-inning run-rule contest to meet the Raiders in Friday's championship game. Grayce Majam struck out 10 batters in the win while also scoring three runs on the base-paths. Teammate Liz Cox drove in three runs to the delight of the Red Hawks.
Neither Southwest nor Mountain Empire have met on the field so far this season.
Majam will be an individual to contend with after hitting a towering .744 in 16 games with seven doubles, six triples, nine home runs and a team-leading 27 RBI. She is also 9-1 in the pitching circle with 110 strikeouts in 59 innings pitched to go with a 1.06 earned-run average.
Southwest had its regular season schedule cut short by the cancellation of games due to the North County wildfires. The Raiders finished 4-1 in league play to match the league record posted by the Montgomery Aztecs.
Olea leads Southwest both at the plate and in the pitching circle this season. In 18 game appearances, she had posted a team-leading .525 hitting average with seven doubles and 16 RBI. In 50 innings pitched, she had 57 strikeouts.
Olea was credited with a no-hitter in the team’s opening playoff win over Borrego Springs.
Other top hitters on this year’s Raider squad include Diaz (.500, 15 RBI, two home runs), Lopez (.444. 16 RBI, seven doubles, three triples, one home run), Cindy Pena (.371, team-leading 20 RBI, six doubles, two home runs) and Zinnai Lopez (.370, 13 RBI, four doubles, three home runs).
Barons, Crusaders join Lady Raiders in CIF finals
The Metro-Mesa League champion Bonita Vista Barons did it the hard way, winning three elimination games, but they got the job done to advance to Saturday's Open Division championship game. The third-seeded Barons (20-6) defeated fifth-seeded Westview (24-6-1) in a pair of 4-2 nail-biters Thursday at the Santee USA Sportsplex to successfully climb out of the challenger bracket.
Mater Dei Catholic, seeded third in the Division II bracket, will make its fifth consecutive trip to the section finals after sqeezing past ninth-seeded San Pasqual, 7-6, in an eight-inning thriller in Thursday's winners bracket final in Santee.
Reyna Jamison finished the game three-for-four with a triple and two RBI while Alexis Morales went two-for-five with two runs scored and one RBI to lead the Crusaders (18-11).
The Crusaders were hard-pressed to score the victory after letting a 3-2 lead evaporate on a game-tying home run by San Pasqual's Autumn McCollister in the top of the seventh inning and a triple by McCollister — her fourth hit of the game — in the top of the eighth inning to score three runs to give the Golden Eagles a 6-3 lead.
But coach Mike Centrullo's squad has managed to find a way this season, and again it was so as MDC chipped away in its final at-bat.
The Crusaders placed two runners on base when Lindsey Finch rocked a ground-rule double to score one run to trip the San Pasqual lead to 6-4. Morales then drove in another run to cut the lead to 6-5 and Sophia Herrera laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to score Finch as the game-tying run.
The game-winning run scored on an errant pick-off attempt at third base.
Mater Dei Catholic was then left waiting to find out which team it would face in Saturday's division final, scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at UC San Diego.
Valhalla, the division's 10th seed, eliminated the equally upset-minded San Pasqual, 17-10, in a slugfest in Thursday night's challenger bracket final to advance to meet the Crusaders in Saturday's championship game. Carlee Wallace slammed two home runs in the game for the Lady Norsemen to account for five RBI in the game.
The teams have met once this season. Mater Dei Catholic defeated Valhalla, 8-5, in a Hilltop tournament game on March 29.
In a Division I winners bracket game Thursday in Santee, fourth-seeded Ramona (22-8) scored a wild 16-10 victory against second-seeded Otay Ranch to drop the Mustangs to the challenger bracket final against top-seeded Cathedral Catholic. The Dons (26-3) then secured a Saturday finals date with the Lady Bulldogs by eliminating Otay Ranch by a 9-1 score in the evening's ensuing challenger bracket final.
The Lady Mustangs end their season 21-11.
San Diego Section championship game
Division V: (3) Mountain Empire 11, (1) Southwest 9. Note: Southwest scored 6 runs in first inning to lead 6-0
San Diego Section championship games
Division II: (3) Mater Dei Catholic (18-11) vs. (10) Valhalla (20-12), 2 p.m. at UC San Diego. Mater Dei Catholic wins 3-0, captures fifth consecutive CIF championship title
Open Division: (2) Carlsbad (18-4) vs. (3) Bonit Vista (20-6), 7 p.m. Carlsbad wins 8-4, claims division title, Bonita Vista finishes second
More details coming soon
SAN DIEGO SECTION SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS
Sportsplex USA Santee
Thursday, May 29
Open Division semifinals
(5) Westview vs. (3) Bonita Vista, 5 p.m. Bonita Vista wins 4-2, forces replay against Westview, scores 4-2 win to advance to championship game
(2) Carlsbad 11, (6) Torrey PInes 2. Carlsbad advances to championship game.
Challenger bracket semifinal: (1) Eastlake vs. (10) Valhalla, 3 p.m. Valhalla wins 6-2, Eastlake eliminated
Winner's bracket final: (3) Mater Dei Catholic vs. (9) San Pasqual, 5:15 p.m. Mater Dei Catholic wins 8-7 in eight innings, advances to championship game
Challenger bracket final: San Pasqual vs. Valhalla, 7 p.m.
Poway USA Santee
Thursday, May 29
Challenger bracket semifinal: (3) Mt. Carmel vs. (1) Cathedral Catholic, 3 p.m. Mt. Carmel wins 7-4, advances to challenger bracket final
Winner's bracket final: (2) Otay Ranch vs. (4) Ramona, 5:15 p.m. Ramona wins 16-10, advances to championship game
Challenger bracket final: (1) Cathedral Catholic vs. (2) Otay Ranch, 7 p.m. Cathedral Catholic wins 8-1, Otay Ranch eliminated
Semifinal: (1) Southwest 11, (2) Calipatria 1. Southwest advances to championship game
Semifinal: (3) Mountain Empire 13, (4) Foothills Christian 3 (5 innings). Mountain Empire advances to championship game, Foothills Christian eliminated
SAN DIEGO SECTION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
Barons bounced from winners bracket; Mar Vista, Olympian remain undefeated
The second-seeded Bonita Vista Barons (20-10) drop to elimination round with 3-0 shutout loss to third-seeded San Fe Christian in Thursday's second-round game in bracket play. The Barons will meet an unnamed opponent in Saturday's elimination game, scheduled for an 11 a.m. start
Bonita Vista will host sixth-seeded Scripps Ranch after the Falcons eliminated seventh-seeded San Marcos on Friday.
In other games on Frtiday, Otay Ranch dropped a 7-5 decision to suffer elimination in the Division I bracketr while Eastlake (23-8) edged West Hills, 6-5, to advance to the next round in the elimination bracket. In Division IV, both Mar Vista (17-0 over Southwest) and Olympian (6-4 over Calexico) won to remain in contention in the winners bracket.
Michael Martinez (1-1) picked up the win on the hill for Eastlake while also starring at the plate with three RBI.
Javier De La Torre earned the win for fourth-seeded Mar Vista, which pounded out 17 hits against the Raiders. Marco Leyva led the Mariners (18-13) with four RBI while teammates Anthony Bell and De La Torre each collected, Andrew Robinson and Chase Titilah each drove in two runs while Jacob Rice, Ryan Paniagua and Julian Briseno each drove in one run.
For Olympian (13-16), Daniel Porras picked up the win over Calexico while Taj Dawson went two-for-four and scored two runs, Abraham Villafana scored one run and drove in one run and Victor Ramirez went two-for-three at the plate.
Mar Vista and Olympian, both with two wins to start the tournament, advance to play in Tuesday's semifinals. Mar Vista will host ninth-seeded Southwest while Olympian will rematch with third-seeded Calexico. Game times are 3:30 p.m.
Wins by both Metro squads will catapult them into Friday's championship game while losses to either will force a semifinal rematch against their respective opponents on Thursday.
Southwest defeated top-seeded Central Union for the second time in the tournament, 4-2, in Saturday's third round to eliminate the Spartans. This leaves three Metro teams among the final four teams in the division vying for berths in the championship game, and thus assures that at least one South County team will advance to the division final.
Bonita Vista scored a comeback 4-2 win over visiting Scripps Ranch on Saturday to advance to a rematch against third-seeded Santa Fe Christian in Tuesday's fourth round.
Eastlake also remained alive in the Division II elimination bracket aftrer scoring a 10-5 revenge win at La Jolla on Saturday. The Titans will play at top-seeded El Camino on Tuesday.
Both Metro-Mesa League teams need two wins to advance to Saturday's division championship game at USD.
Michael Martinez picked up the win to improve to 2-1 on the season for Eastlake (24-8) while Dean Nevarez went three-for-four with three RBI; Luke Ramirez went two-for-four and scored twice, Baley Castro went two-for-two, scored two runs and drove in one run, Julian Escobedo went two-for-four, scored twice and collected two RBI and Ben Ramirez went three-for-four and drove in three runs.
For Bonita Vista, Eduardo Perez earned the win on the mound to improve to 2-0. Fennell homered for Scripps Ranch while Esteban Velasco countered for the Barons by going two-for-three with a pair of doubles and one RBI. Bonita Vista (21-10) scored one run on a passed ball; Andres Velasco later drove in an insurance run.