Marauders roll towards semifinal berth

(Kason Clark)

Monache softball finishes off Paso Robles in 12-2 five-inning win in the D-II Central Section Championships quarterfinals; Marauders advance to the semifinals to face Mission Oak 

PORTERVILLE – After opening the Division II Central Section Championships with a 12-0 road win over Highland, Monache softball looked to stay hot when it hosted No. 15 seed Paso Robles this past Friday. With a chance to punch their tickets to the Central Valley semifinals, the No. 10 seed Marauders left little room for doubt.

On May 17, the Marauders got their bats going early to take a 10-0 lead and threaten to end the game by run rule. The Bearcats tried to extend the contest, but Marauders finished it off for a 12-2 win in five innings as they have now found their stride in the playoffs. 

“I’m pumped. The girls are progressing the way we always have been talking about throughout the entire season,” Monache head coach Briana Bamber said. “The hitting has come along and everybody did their job today.”

Along with their two playoff wins, the Marauders have now won four straight to improve their overall record to 17-13 this season. With how the Marauders are playing late in the season, Monache senior Kaylynn Brassfield and her teammates are feeling confident.

“We’re learning how to work together because this is a team effort. Everyone is paying their dues and they’re doing their part,” Brassfield said. “I believe that if we keep doing this, we’re going to become Central Valley champions.”

The Marauders demonstrated their hot play in the bottom of the first inning against Paso Robles. With the bases loaded, Brassfield singled to center field to drive in a pair of runs for the lead. Avery Smith then came through with a single that drove in another two runs to make it a 4-0 game.

Monache later increased the lead to 5-0 thanks to an RBI single from Brassfield in the second inning. The Marauders then really got rolling in the third to bury the Bearcats. Devynn Emerson drove in a run with an infield single to push the lead to 6-0. Amiee Rivas then tripled to right to drive in Emerson for another run.

Thanks to a sacrifice fly from Ahtziri Barrios, Rivas scored to increase the lead to 8-0. Later in the inning after Monache got two runners on base, Brassfield came through again with a single to clear the bases and push the lead to 10-0. After struggling with their bats earlier in the season, the Monache bats have been scorching this postseason.

Monache’s Danika Sanchez hits the ball in a home playoff game against Paso Robles. (Kason Clark)

“We struggled in the beginning of the year so we’ve been practicing our patience,” Brassfield said. “So with actual practice and actually using our reps, we’re getting better at being patient and the bats are coming through when they need to.”

Along with the offensive explosion, starting pitcher Sophia Martinez and the Monache defense came to play. Through the first three innings, the Marauders allowed no runs and only two hits as they continued their excellent defensive play this season.

“Our defense has been solid all year round. We’ve had a lot of good communication between our infield and outfield,”Bamber said. “Big shout out to our pitcher. She really just brought it today and did her job.”

The Bearcats did break through for a couple runs to cut the deficit to 10-2 heading to the bottom of the fifth inning. But the Marauders were ready to end the game early as their bats got hot again in the fifth. Jaydin Sabol got the inning started with an RBI double and Brassfield followed that up with an RBI single to push the score to 12-2 to end the game. She finished the night with six RBIs to lead the Marauders. 

The Marauders advance to the Division II Central Section Championships semifinals where they will next face No. 6 seed Mission Oak. As they look to beat the Hawks and clinch a spot in the Central Valley title game, Bamber believes the Marauders need to stay hot at the plate.

“Our big focus this season has been our hitting,” Bamber said. “If our girls keep hitting the way that they’ve been doing and we focus on that and focus on being patient at the plate like we’ve been doing, I think we can make it all the way.”

Other local softball teams continued the playoffs this past Friday. In the Division I Central Section Championships, No. 8 seed Redwood suffered a 4-3 loss to No. 1 seed Central. In the Division III Central Section Championships, No. 5 seed Tulare Western advanced with a 14-4 win over No. 13 seed Independence.

No. 1 seed Woodlake stayed hot with a 10-0 win over No. 9 seed Washington Union to advance to semifinals of the Division V Central Section Championships. In the same tournament, No. 6 Porterville stayed alive with a 1-0 road win over No. 3 seed Chavez. In the Division VI Central Section Championships, No. 1 seed Lindsay was upset in a 2-0 home loss to No. 8 seed Nipomo.

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