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March 16, 2012 > March Madness ends with wild finishes

March Madness ends with wild finishes

By Biff Jones
Photos By Don Jedlovec

March Madness 2012, ladies fast pitch softball tourney, held this past weekend, March 10-11 at Central Park in Fremont and hosted by Ohlone College Renegades, saw plenty of action, especially in Sunday's Gold Bracket games. Saturday was pool play with 16 California Community College teams participating in four pools, A, B, C, D, of four teams each while Sunday's games would be single elimination play.

On Saturday the Renegades opened against Merced with sophomore Lauren Ermitano out of Castro Valley High School toeing the rubber. Ohlone started out like it was going to run away with an opening game victory taking an 11-3 lead after three innings. However, walks and Renegade fielding errors over the last three innings saw Ohlone escape with a 12-9 win.

Ermitano gave up six runs on six hits and three walks over the first five innings while reliever, freshman Brittany Wright, California High School, San Ramon, allowed three runs (one earned) on four walks and no hits. Renegades committed six errors during the game.

Offensively, Ermitano helped her own cause going 4/4 with a home run, four RBI's and two runs scored; sophomore center fielder Ashley Vignola, Granada High School, Livermore, was 2/4 with a home run, four RBI's and two runs scored; and sophomore right fielder Megan Tyler, Robertson High School went 3/3 with two runs scored.

Game 2 on Saturday for Ohlone saw them fall, 3-2 to Feather River in a much better played game which was called after six innings of play because of the imposed 1 hour, 45 minute time limit. All
Saturday games could not start an inning after 105 minutes provided the losing team had at least five innings of at bats. This game saw the Renegades commit just two errors while walking one and FR walked four but had no errors.

Sophomore southpaw, Katy Bihl, Newark Memorial High School, pitched all six innings giving up five hits and only one earned run. Sophomore left fielder Renelle Traylor, San Lorenzo High School, tripled in going 2/2 with a walk and a run scored. Bihl added a double.

Final game on Saturday against Gavilan was called after 4 1/2 innings based on the eigh- run mercy rule with Ohlone shutting out the Gilroy team, 8-0. Wright went the distance for the Renegades giving up just three hits and striking out four. However, she gave up seven walks but was able to keep all the free passes from scoring. Sophomore catcher, Shelby Fowler, California High went 2/3 with a double, three RBI's and two runs scored; freshman designated player, Jamie Costa, West High School, Tracy was 2/2 including a triple, a walk, two RBI's and a run scored; Traylor was 2/3 with two RBI's; and freshman lead off hitter, Mariah Nisbet, California High walked twice and scored a run.

When Gavilan defeated Feather River, 11-3 in the last game of Pool B play, the result was that those two teams and Ohlone ended in a three-way tie for first in Pool B at 2-1. All three teams defeated Merced and beat each other. First tie breaker was total runs allowed by each team in pool play. Gavilan and Ohlone each allowed 12 runs while FR allowed 16. This meant FR ended up third and would have to play in the Silver Bracket on Sunday. To determine the first and second place teams, the second and last tie breaker would have to be used, a coin flip. Ohlone won the flip and drew Pool C second place Hartnell on Sunday while Gavlian would have to face first place San Jose City.

Bihl would get the start for the Renegades on Sunday against Hartnell and the southpaw pitched a beauty. She gave up just two runs (one earned on an Ohlone error), five hits and no walks while striking out 12 of 21 outs in going the distance, with a 7-2 win. Nisbet was 3/4 with an RBI and a run scored; Ermitano 2/4 with three RBI's; Fowler, a home run; sophomore third baseman, Kaley Marden, Washington High School, a triple and a run scored; and sophomore second baseman, Sarah Ragusa, Granada, a double, two RBI's and one run scored.

Meanwhile, Fresno City College Rams, second out of Pool A after another three-way tie for first at 2-1, played College of the Siskiyous Eagles, from Weed, first out of Pool D. Siskiyous came into March Madness at 14-1, ranked number one in the state. In pool play on Saturday, Siskiyous did not allow a run in their three games.

Finally in the second inning, Fresno broke through the goose eggs with a home run for a 1-0 lead. However, the Eagles showed why they are ranked #1 when they answered with five runs in the bottom of the second.

Meanwhile, Fresno would keep battling, picking up single runs in the third and fifth while shutting down the Eagle bats. Top of the seventh saw Fresno score two and tie the game at 5-5 which ended up sending the game into extra innings. In top nine, Fresno broke the tie to go up 6-5 and they then shut down #1 which sent the Rams against the Renegades in a Gold Bracket semi-final.

Wright would get the start on field 3 against Fresno and right away you could see Ohlone had left their "A" game back on field 4 where they had played their previous four games. Top of the first saw Fresno load the bases on two singles and a walk, but Wright got out of it without allowing a run. In the second, the Rams scored two runs on a walk, a hit batsman and two singles. Bottom second, Renegades loaded the bases but could not score.

Finally in the third, the wheels came off for Ohlone. Fresno scored seven runs when the Rams went single, sacrifice, triple, strike out, double, single, walk, triple, single, then three straight errors including two on one play. Score was now 9-0 and if not for being only in the third inning, it would have been game over. Bihl relieved Wright after the walk in the third.

To Ohlone's credit, they kept battling and finally got on the board with a three-run fourth and added two in the fifth and one in the sixth while holding Fresno to one in the fifth. With the score 10-6 Fresno going into the seventh, the Renegades were still within range of a comeback if they could shut down the Rams in the top of the seventh.

With the bases loaded, two outs and no runs in, came the play of the tournament. Fresno second baseman, Kassie Sierras, hit a dribbler down the third base line. Third baseman, Marden charged the ball, caught it and flipped it to catcher Fowler as it looked like she would have had no chance to get the batter at first. Fowler caught the ball and appeared to be touching home plate. With the bases loaded, only a force at home was required and not a tag. However, the Fresno runner then kicked the ball out of Fowler's glove and the umpire ruled the runner safe and not out on a force play. Ball then went to the back stop as a live ball and before anyone could get control of the ball, two more runners scored and the batter went to third. A following single would then score the fourth run of the inning and Fresno now had an almost insurmountable lead, 14-6, going into the bottom of the seventh.

Again, Ohlone kept battling and scored five runs in the seventh on five singles, a sac fly and a Fresno error to go down 14-11, enough for a win if not for the bizarre plate at the plate.

Gold Bracket final would be between Fresno and San Jose City Colleges. SJC jumped out to 5-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings before Fresno closed the gap to 5-4 after four innings. Jaguars would put up five runs in the fifth to take a 10-4 lead but again Fresno was not dead. Rams would score one in the fifth, three in the sixth and three more in the seventh for an 11-10 Gold Bracket Championship with the winning run scoring on passed ball. Solano College of Fairfield defeated Feather River, 12-1 to win the Silver Bracket.

Ohlone is now 16-6 on the year and 5-0 in Coast Conference North (CCN) league play. Next scheduled game is Saturday, March 17, 12noon at home against CCN second place, College of San Mateo (24-3, 4-1) weather permitting. Renegades return home vs. CC South Gavilan on Thursday, March 29 and on Tuesday, April 3 vs. CCS San Jose City. Both games start at 3:00 p.m.

Congratulations to Ohlone Head Coach, Donna Runyon and her staff of coaches, parents and volunteers on a very well run tournament.

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