Ridgeview softball coach Jerry Dumatrait kept telling his team to be patient at the plate as the Wolf Pack struggled to score runs during the early and middle stages of its Central Section Division II first round playoff game against visiting East.
By following the sage advice of their highly-successful veteran coach, Ridgeview’s offense finally got rolling late.
The No. 7 Wolf Pack broke open a one-run game with five runs during its final two turns at the plate and went on to beat the No. 10 Blades 6-1 on Wednesday.
“They finally started being a little more patient at the plate and we started hitting the ball,” Dumatrait said.
The Wolf Pack (17-9) will face No. 2 Fresno-Edison (13-10), which had a first-round bye, in the quarterfinals.
Getting past the Blades (13-10-1) was no easy task for Ridgeview.
The game was a pitcher’s dual through the first five innings as East freshman Brooklynn Jerdin and the Wolf Pack’s Trinity Ybarra both performed brilliantly in the circle.
Ybarra retired 15 of the first 18 batters she faced. The only hit Jerdin allowed through the first five innings was a third-inning, two-out, RBI single by Mikaela Aguilar that gave Ridgeview a 1-0 lead.
The Wolf Pack, which came into the playoffs averaging 8.4 runs per game, finally started getting to Jerdin the third time through its lineup.
Clinging to a precarious 1-0 lead, Ridgeview added three insurance runs in the fifth. Audrey Esparza led off the inning by getting beaned by Jerdin. After a sacrifice bunt and a fly out, Te’ La Beard drilled a hard grounder up the middle scoring one run. Ybarra followed with high bouncer into left field for a single. The next batter, Mariah Perez, split the defense with a grounder into centerfield, driving in two more runs.
Alexis Lopez leadoff triple in the sixth led to East’s only run of the game.
Any momentum the Blades had going was quickly squelched in the bottom half of the frame, when Seidy Morua smacked a two-run single after Jo Jo Pena walked and Arianna Forthman doubled to lead off the inning.
The two-run rally spelled the end of line for Jerdin who allowed six runs on six hits and three walks in five-plus innings.
“We just all worked together, that’s how we got as many runs as we did,” said Aguilar.
Ybarra went the distance in the circle. She gave up one unearned run on five hits and had five strikeouts.
“She was on today,” Dumatrait said. “We didn’t have much to worry about with her.”
Two of the three hits Ybarra surrendered were erased by double plays.
“I was satisfied with the way I pitched today,” Ybarra said. “I got it together and I only let them score once. (Our defense) was amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better team. I’m so proud of them.”
Arianna Gutierrez (2 for 3) was the only player on either team to have multiple hits.
Beard reached base three times with one hit and two walks.
East had zero bases on balls.
Ybarra needed just 14 pitches to get through the first three innings.
“They weren’t disciplined on the plate and it hurt us today,” East coach Arturo Gonzalez said. “…The playoffs change the dynamics and the way they think. We had the opportunity and we just didn’t capitalize.”
Despite the season-ending loss, East finished with its first winning season in more than a decade.
“Success is built in baby-steps and I felt we did that throughout the year,” Gonzalez said. “We had a great season in surprising people. That’s the reason we had three team tied (for first in the SYL). We felt like we own a part of that.”
For Ridgeview, beating East was the first step in what it hopes is a long playoff run.
“The first wins (in the playoffs) are always the toughest,” Dumatrait said. “You’ve got to get past you’re nerves and everything. Now, we go up to Edison and hopefully we be on the top of our game.”