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April 24, 2007 > Ohlone Softballers pull out a squeaker

Ohlone Softballers pull out a squeaker

By Biff Jones

For the Ohlone Renegades softball team it was a must win if they had any hopes of hosting two regionals at the upcoming California Community College State Softball Championship Tournament. They are a lock to be selected as one of the top sixteen teams in the NorCal Section of the Championships and stand a good chance to host a first round regional (one of the top eight teams). To host a second round regional, they will have to win the first round regional (best two out of three) against an unnamed opponent, then be one of the top four teams remaining in the tournament.

After an upset loss to City College of San Francisco, 2-0, on April 10, the Renegades would have to run the table of the remaining regular season games to guarantee a top four seed. Their next games turned into relatively easy victories as they defeated Mission of Santa Clara, 25-1, and Chabot of Hayward 10-2. Next came the rubber match against College of San Mateo.

The loss to CCSF dropped the Lady Renegades into a tie for first place with San Mateo in the Coast Conference North Division (CCND). This would be the fourth meeting between the two conference rivals. Ohlone won the first meeting 7-0, then dropped back-to-back decisions to the Lady Bulldogs, 6-1 and 6-2. However, the 6-1 loss was a non-conference game, so the two teams were one and one against each other in conference play. This game would now be for first place in the conference and give the winner the tie-breaker advantage in case of a tie for the conference title at the end of the regular season.

CCSM threatened in the top of the first, but the Renegades were able to get out of the inning without a run being scored. In the bottom of the second Ohlone opened the scoring in a very unusual manner, a prelude of things to come later in the contest. With one out, second baseman Kassandra Winger drew a walk and promptly stole second base.
After another out, left fielder Danielle Cameron reached base on a passed ball as she struck out, but the Bulldogs catcher could not hold the third strike. Meanwhile, Winger was attempting to steal third on the pitch, and when the San Mateo catcher tried to throw Cameron out at first, Winger scored on the play. Ohlone pitcher and Team Captain, Isabel Ramos, then struck out for the third out and fourth strike out of the inning. The lead would be short lived as San Mateo would answer in the top of the third with a run to tie the score at 1-1. The two teams would then pitch shut-outs until the seventh.

Top of the seventh saw CCSM put runners on second and third with two outs after second baseman Chelsea Martin smacked her second double of the game. That brought up shortstop Heather Huddleston who ripped an RBI single to right field. However, Ohlone right fielder Danielle Yee, who was playing shallow, quickly came up with the ball to hold Martin at third. But instead of throwing home or to second base on the play, Yee fired the ball to first baseman Cassandra Ortega. The throw beat Huddleston and was recorded as a put out at first for the third out of the inning, thus negating the run at home.

In the bottom of the seventh, Renegades third basemen Raquel Torres led off with a single. She was then sacrificed to second by Cameron. Ramos followed with another single and Ohlone Head Coach Donna Runyon, working the third base coach's box, had Torres running all the way to try and score the winning run. With a magnificent slide, Torres eluded the tag of the Bulldog's catcher, but in doing so, she also just missed touching home plate and was tagged out before she could score. Meantime, Ramos moved to second on the play.

Yee followed with another single sending Ramos to third and Yee took second on the throw back to the infield. Left fielder and lead off hitter Valerie Briones came to the plate with runners on second and third and two outs. Briones is a "slap hitter" and gets a lot of infield and bunt hits along with drawing a lot of bases on balls. This time San Mateo elected to intentionally walk Briones to load the bases for shortstop Jessica Soderholm. As it turned out, this was the first time Briones had been intentionally walked in her two year JC career, and it would cost CCSM, as Soderholm was hit on the foot by the first pitch she saw from San Mateo pitcher Michelle Tating. The HBP forced home the winning run and gave Ohlone a 2-1 victory and sole possession of first place in CCND. Ohlone improved to 18-4 in league play and 33-8 overall. Ramos pitching record for the year is now 17-3.

Next up for the Renegades is a home game today at 3 p.m. against Foothill of Los Altos Hills followed by a road game, and final regular season game, tomorrow, April 25 at San Jose City College at 3 p.m. At press time, SJCC was ranked number four in NorCal in the JC Coach's poll, is undefeated in league play and sits atop the Coast Conference South Division. San Mateo had been ranked number five and Ohlone number six, but they will probably flip flop in the next poll that comes out this week. Seedings and match-ups for the first round of the playoffs, May 5-6, will come out next week.

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