This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Ridgeview High softball team. Instead it has turned out to be another championship season for the seemingly always strong Wolf Pack.
Fielding a lineup of mostly freshmen and sophomores, Ridgeview clinched its third straight South Yosemite League title with a 6-1 win over West on Tuesday.
Freshman pitcher Samantha Mejia hurled a four-hitter and freshman shortstop Angelina Meza smacked a two-run home run to lead visiting Ridgeview to its 11th consecutive win.
The Wolf Pack heads into its final regular-season game of the year Thursday with an 11-0 league record.
"We have a good, young team and we're getting better and better every game," Ridgeview coach Jerry Dumatrait said.
Leading 1-0, Ridgeview (16-5 overall) broke the game open by scoring two runs in the third inning and another three in the following frame.
Mejia, Zulema Huizar, Alyssa Gonzalez and Andrea Rodriguez had two hits each for the Wolf Pack, which came into the day two games ahead of the second-place Vikings (15-9, 8-3 SYL).
All but four of Ridgeview's 12 hits were by freshmen or sophomores.
"These girls, you know they're young but they're a good bunch of girls," Dumatrait said. "They work hard."
Mejia (9-5) dominated in the circle, except for the first and sixth innings. She struck out the side three times and fanned 11 batters.
Mejia allowed a pair of hits before working her way out of a first-inning jam unscathed. She then retired 14 of the next 17 batters. The three that reached were all on walks.
Down 6-0, West finally broke through for its lone run in the sixth. Following a pair of routine fly ball outs to open the frame, Gisselle Moore hit a grounder up the middle for a single.
Megan Lanquist and Celeste Hanks then drew walks to load the bases for Gloria Moreno, who brought home Moore with a hard ground ball into center field.
But with the Vikings threatening to draw closer, Mejia got Alexis Alvarado to hit into an inning-ending ground ball to first base. Mejia struck out the final three batters of the game
"I'm just proud of my team," Mejia said. "We came through. They always have my back."
After a 2-5 record to start the season, Mejia has now won her last eight decisions.
"For being a freshman, she's pretty tough," Dumatrait said. "She loses focus every now and then. That's the only problem that we have ... but when she's on like she was that last inning, they're not going to touch her too often."
Meza and Jalissa Ruiz had two RBIs apiece, and Huizar and Rodriguez each drove in a run for the Wolf Pack. All six Ridgeview runs were scored with two outs.
Rodriguez got things going, putting Ridgeview up 1-0 in the first with a hard smash off the glove of West pitcher Trinidad Lee.
Two innings later, Ruiz made it 3-0 with a hard grounder past the backhand attempt of Moore, the Vikings shortstop at the time.
Huizar hit a line-drive single in the fifth to pad the Wolf Pack advantage by another run. One batter later, Meza drilled a Lee offering well over the left-field fence.
Despite the setback, it's been one of the best seasons in a long time for West, which will finish second in the SYL regardless of the outcome of its final regular-season game.
"We've given a solid effort all season," West coach Mary Celedon said. "We've struggled in years past. This season we came in strong. ... Our defense is strong. We just got to work a little bit more on our offense. And that's what got us today, our offense."