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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Frontier High catcher Taylor Brancato tags Stockdale High runner, Samantha Mackay, out at home in their Thursday game.

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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Stockdale High's Baylee Boren hits the dirt but makes the catch to get the Frontier High batter out in their Thursday afternoon game.

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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Stockdale's Baylee Boren fields a grounder as Frontier's #16 Brenna Vasquez tries to advance to 3rd in their Thursday afternoon game. Boren threw to 1st to get a Frontier runner out and end Frontier's scoring threat.

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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian Stockdale's Baylee Boren fields a grounder as Frontier's #16 Brenna Vasquez tries to advance to 3rd in their Thursday afternoon game. Boren threw to 1st to get a Frontier runner out and end Frontier's scoring threat.

For most of Thursday's softball game, Frontier put runners on base, threatened Stockdale and generally looked dangerous. Stockdale, armed with the narrowest of leads, kept finding ways to escape.

When the dust had settled, the Mustangs had a 2-0 victory and were a step closer to an unlikely Southwest Yosemite League title.

"Coming into this season, I never would have expected us to be where we are right now," Stockdale coach Amanda Hockett said. "We just kind of tried to relate to the girls that everybody thinks they're down this year. I think that fired them up a little bit."

In this one, the Mustangs (17-8, 9-2 SWYL) scratched across a run on Aryka Chavez's RBI single; a second baserunner was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

Then Frontier pitcher Tori Lamb set down 14 Stockdale hitters in a row, giving her Titans (16-10, 7-4) every chance to get back in the game.

Frontier had runners on the corners in the first inning when Keri Zaninovich's ground ball hit a baserunner for an automatic out that ended the threat.

The Titans went down in order only once, and they squandered leadoff doubles from Zaninovich in the fourth and Brenna Vasquez in the sixth.

"When you have a lead runner on second with no outs, there's no reason you should not score. No reason," Frontier coach Lisa Moore said. "We couldn't lay down a bunt, and we couldn't get clutch hits."

When Stockdale pitcher Ashlee Rex -- who was the one working out of all of these jams -- doubled with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, it snapped Lamb's streak of 14 straight batters retired. Rex scored on Sam Mackay's single, and the Mustangs had a huge insurance run.

"One run's never enough," Hockett said. "One big hit or one error can change the momentum. But it's repetition in practice: We talk about these key situations on defense a lot."

Lamb had eight strikeouts and surrenderd four hits but was the tough-luck loser.

"Every game in this league is like a championship," said Moore, whose team beat the Mustangs 2-1 in 11 innings on Tuesday. "But Stockdale is different. We really wanted this one."

Now, Stockdale leads Centennial (8-3 SWYL) by a game and Frontier by two with four games to play, and all the Mustangs have remaining are two-game series with Bakersfield and Independence, the bottom two teams in the league.

Not bad for a team that lost three-time Californian Player of the Year Justine Vela and a host of other seniors, a group that went to three straight Central Section Division I title games.

"We're not looking past anybody," Hockett said. "We just keep trying to chip away a game at a time, taking care of our own business."