Heritage High rarely has much success playing at Freedom's softball field, but everything finally came together for the Patriots in Friday's North Coast Section Division I quarterfinal.
A combination of good pitching, timely hitting and crisp defense propelled the Patriots to a 6-0 win over their Bay Valley Athletic League rival.
"Every time we come (to Freedom) we slip up or do something wrong," said Heritage sophomore catcher Malia Rivers, whose team shared the BVAL title with the Falcons. "Today we actually played tight defense and did really well. I'm really proud of my team."
The fifth-seeded Patriots (15-7) scored all the runs they needed in the third inning when No. 4 Freedom (17-8) committed three errors. With no outs and the bases loaded, Rivers singled to right field to score two runs. Two batters later, Deni Yandell added another two-run single.
In the fifth, Marissa Ortiz was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score another run. Pitcher Lisa Rodrigues added a solo home run in the seventh.
Freedom's best scoring chance came in the second inning when it loaded the bases with one out. A force out at home and ground out ended the threat. Rodrigues allowed just one more hit -- a single to Malena Padilla in the sixth.
Rodrigues got plenty of help from her defense, particularly in right field from Yandell and at second base from Ortiz.
"All the credit goes to (Heritage)," said Freedom coach Jeff Jonas. "They put the ball in play, they got key hits, their outfielder made a couple nice catches out there ... That's how you win."
Newark Memorial 1, Antioch 0: Marissa Chapa outdueled Antioch's Paris Imholz as the Cougars advanced to the NCS Division I semifinals for the second year in a row with a win over the visiting Panthers.
Chapa allowed just four hits while striking out nine and was backed up by a strong Newark defense. Twice Antioch had potential rallies stopped by defensive gems by the Cougars.
With Newark leading 1-0 in the fifth, the Panthers had two on with two outs when Kelsey Cast hit a bullet that Newark third baseman Laurisa Hernandez snagged to end the inning. Cougars shortstop Erica Contreras hauled in a pop-up over her left shoulder to end the threat with runners on first and second in the sixth.
"It's a great feeling when the defense plays this good," Chapa said. "It takes a lot of pressure off of me, knowing the defense will make the plays out there."
Antioch (16-6) opened the game by putting its first two runners on base. But Chapa settled down to get a pop out and two strikeouts to end the threat.
"Getting out of the inning was such a momentum build for us," Chapa said. "We came out a little relaxed, but for us to hold them without anyone scoring really fired us up."
The Cougars (22-3) scored the only run in the third. Freshman Regan Rodriguez was hit by a pitch with two outs, went to second on a Chapa single and later scored on an infielder's error.
Imholz allowed just three hits with five strikeouts. She also went 2 for 3 with a double in her final prep game.
-- Tony Gonsalez
Amador Valley 1, California 0: Right-hander Johanna Grauer threw a two-hit shutout as the host Dons (20-5) made a first-inning run stand up in a Division I second-round game.
Grauer, a freshman, struck out eight and walked none. The only hits California managed were singles by Sarita Leon in the second inning and Joelle Williams in the fourth.
"Johanna pitched a fantastic game," Dons coach Julie Marshall said. "She showed incredible composure for a freshman in a big-game situation."
Lindsey Chalmers was impressive for the Grizzlies (18-7) as she pitched six innings of scoreless relief.
After Grauer retired the side in order in the top of the first, the Dons generated just enough offense in the bottom of the inning to get the only run they needed.
Kiera Melton got a one-out single and moved to second on Grauer's sacrifice bunt. Ashley Lotozynski then delivered a two-out single that brought Melton home.
-- Mike McGreehan, correspondent