ALHAMBRA- The postseason run for the San Marino National 9-10 All-Star softball team came to an end Monday afternoon with a 10-4 loss to Westchester Del Rey, eliminating them from the Southern California divisional playoffs at Moor Field.
“It’s going to be a tough loss for them to get over, but I think they really battled hard, and they stuck together, and their community is very proud of them,” San Marino assistant J. F. Bonavich said.
San Marino (7-2) had mounted numerous comebacks this postseason, including a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Westchester Del Rey in the opening game of the tournament, but on Monday there was just too much to overcome.
San Marino trailed 5-2 going into the fourth inning. Stevie Perry led off the frame with a solid single to right field and was replaced on the base paths by pinch-runner Natalie Pearson. Three batters later, Pearson came around to score on a RBI groundout by Priscilla McAllister, who ended up reaching base on a fielding error. Westchester hurler Alexis Clancy, who took over in the circle in the fourth, then walked Maggie Jameson to load the bases with one out.
This brought back starting pitcher Sloan Cooksey to throw to Mia Santino, who hit a liner down the right-field line, appearing to clear the bases and to give San Marino a 6-5 lead. However, the umpire had called the ball foul, but in the chaos that followed no one had heard him. Santino returned to the plate and then hit a groundball that did score Lauren Allen, cutting the lead to 5-4. That was as close as San Marino would get, as Sloan struck out the next batter to end the threat. Westchester Del Rey (7-1) added five insurance runs in the sixth inning, including two scored on consecutive wild pitches.
After falling behind, 1-0, after one inning, San Marino took the lead in the second without getting a hit. In the inning, Sloan hit two San Marino batters and walked three more. The final two free passes came with the bases full, scoring Meg Hannan and Laura Chin. McAllister then grounded out to end the threat, but the host team had a short-lived 2-1 advantage. Westchester Del Rey answered with four runs in the top of the third.
“We were obviously a little overmatched at the plate. [Sloan] was a dominant pitcher. She threw hard. She nailed a couple of our girls and I think they were a little nervous up there, but I thought they battled,” Bonavich said.
Justine Huang went the distance in the circle for San Marino National. Huang had 10 strikeouts with at least one in every inning, including the final batter she faced to end the sixth.
“[Huang] was throwing a lot of strikes, but that was a very good hitting team,” Bonavich said.
San Marino National also had to play Monday’s game without Manager Sean Diaz, who was serving a two-day suspension resulting from a rules violation that occurred in Sunday’s 5-3 victory over Oceanside Valley. Diaz had brought Kyli Bonavich, who had pitched the first two innings, back off the bench to get the last two outs of the game. Little League rules state that only a player still playing in the field can re-enter to pitch, a fact the San Marino coaching staff was unaware of at the time.
Oceanside Valley lodged a protest that was passed on through proper channels to the Little League competition committee in Williamsport, Penn., which ruled early Monday afternoon that the game was official, but Diaz would have serve the two-day suspension.
“I’m not going to sit here and make excuses because that doesn’t teach these girls the difference between right and wrong,” Diaz, who rejoined the team after the game, said. “Fortunately, I think Little League made the right decision. I support their decision to suspend me for two days because it was the right thing to do.”
Although tears were shed after Monday’s loss, the San Marino National team still took pride in its accomplishments this season, including the Section 3 championship.
“To win section, when the last four or five years the teams have gone 0-2 and been done, was fantastic,” Diaz said.