SOFTBALL: Marauders silenced in championship game

The Monache Marauders finish second in the Division II Central Section Championships after losing, 4-0, to St. Joseph in the title game.(Kason Clark)

Monache falls behind in a 4-0 loss to the St. Joseph Knights in the Division II Central Section Championship game; the Marauders fall to 18-14 but clinch a spot in CIF SoCal Regionals

FRESNO – Throughout the Division II Central Section Championships, Monache softball’s bats had been on fire to jump start a run to the championship game at Margie Wright Diamond. But in the title game this past Friday night, the Marauders’ bats cooled off when they faced St. Joseph High School.

With their lack of offense, the No. 10 seed Marauders fell behind and could not keep pace with the No. 1 seed Knights on May 24. The defense tried to keep them in the game, but the Marauders went on to lose, 4-0, to finish runner-up in the tournament. Despite the loss, Monache head coach Briana Bamber liked how the Marauders competed throughout the night. 

“They’re fighters, they compete and they didn’t give up the whole game,” Bamber said. “I commend St. Joseph. They did an awesome job today.”

The Marauders played well throughout the postseason to reach the championship. They opened the playoffs with a 12-0 road win over No. 7 seed Highland. The Marauders next defended home field with a 12-2 win over No. 15 seed Paso Robles and then continued their road success with a 5-4 win over No. 6 seed Mission Oak to advance to the championship game.

“We’ve been traveling throughout the season and the girls are used to playing in unfamiliar territory,” Bamber said about their success on the road this postseason. “It’s just been a comfort thing for them so I think they’ve gotten conditioned with traveling and it doesn’t bother them too much.”

But the Marauders struggled in their trip to Fresno. As Monache’s bats struggled to get going early, the St. Joseph Knights took advantage in the bottom of the first inning. With two runners on, Charli Escobedo doubled to right field to clear the bases and take a 2-0 lead.

Monache did find some momentum in the third inning but was unable to take advantage. With a runner on base, Ahtziri Barrios put the ball in play with a single to right. The runner looked to score on the play, but she could not beat the throw home as she was called out to end the inning.

“We had to be aggressive today. Just tried to do our best to get any score that we could,” Bamber said about the play at the plate. “I don’t think it deterred us too much. I think that’s just par for the course for us. We kept it going and we kept grinding but they just outplayed us today.”

The Marauders struggled to find scoring opportunities throughout the night as St. Joseph starting pitcher Taylor Mediano was in the zone with 10 strikeouts and only four hits allowed. After hot play throughout the playoffs, the Marauders were not prepared for what Mediano threw at them.

(Kason Clark)

“It was just a different speed that we’re not used to seeing at this point. We’ve been facing a lot slower pitching,” Bamber said. “(Mediano) just threw heat and I commend her, she’s a great pitcher.”

With the Monache offense held at bay, the Knights added onto their lead in the fifth. After a triple earlier in the inning, Seleny Chavez scored thanks to a sacrifice fly from her teammate Annalyssa Cota. Later in the sixth, St. Joseph made it a 4-0 lead when Cota scored on a Monache error. 

The Marauders failed to get anything going in the seventh as Avery Smith grounded out to end the contest. The loss ended Monache’s five-game winning streak and dropped the team to 18-14 this season.

With their second-place finish in the Division II Central Section, the Marauders clinched a spot in the upcoming Division III CIF SoCal Championships. As the Marauders look to go on another run to end the season, Bamber expects them to rebound from their loss in the Central Valley title game.

“It stings right now but I think they’re going to take it and run with it,” Bamber said. “We’ve faced defeat and we’ve faced adverse odds but we haven’t given up. The girls don’t give up, they’re young and they will bounce back pretty quick from this.”

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