Tulare Union ends their season a game shy of a regional championship appearance after close 3-2 loss to Fowler, but held them to their third lowest scoring output all season
TULARE – With a new head coach at the helm, Tulare Union enjoyed their best season in program history. After winning the Division III Valley Championship for the first time since 2008, they went on to win their first CIF Southern California Regional playoff game in program history before falling in the semi-final round to the Fowler Redcats.
Last Thursday, the Tribe lost 3-2 to the eventual Division III Southern California Regional champions. Tulare Union gave Fowler their closest matchup of the regional playoffs as senior pitcher Mia Reynolds held the Redcats to their third lowest scoring output of the season.
It was a bit of déjà vu for the Tribe who entered the final inning in a similar situation as the week prior. Two weeks ago, they trailed Mission Oak 3-1 heading into the final inning before sophomore Taylor Hastin knocked a walk-off home run out of the park which sent them to the Valley title game.
Last week’s game against Fowler was a similar situation as they trailed 3-2 heading into the final inning. Reynolds, the team’s leader in batting average, stepped up to the plate with two outs on the board, but couldn’t rewrite the storybook ending as she was thrown out at first after a ground ball hit.
Tulare Union’s bats were on fire in their first-round game against Alverno Heights Academy. They won 12-2 in a match that ended after the fifth inning due to the mercy rule. It carried over early against Fowler as they went up 2-0 after the third inning, before Fowler junior pitcher Kamerynn Cordova tightened up on the mound. She went on to dominate as she’s done all season, leading the Redcats to a superb 26-1 record.
Despite their early success at the plate, the Tribe struggled with timely hitting against Cordova.
According to assistant coach Greg Leak, the turning point in the game came during the fifth inning when they led 2-1. Fowler senior and San Jose State University commit Aneesa Almaguer hit a deep shot to center field that was mishandled by freshman outfielder Mason Hatton. That hit brought home Fowler’s last two runs as they went up 3-2.
“Major Leaguers don’t catch it sometimes,” Leak said. “She’s a freshman, she didn’t quite get around it… that’s just softball. You can’t win it on paper, you have to win in between the lines.”
Tulare Union played the semi-final match without head coach Vince Rojo who was out of town. Last year’s canceled season was his first with the team, but his first full season ended a game shy of a regional championship appearance.