CONCORD --Shannon Mestas got out of a one-out jam with the tying runs on in the top of the seventh inning to lift the host Clayton Valley Charter softball team past Maria Carrillo-Santa Rosa 5-3 in the North Coast Section Division II quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Eagles (21-3) held a 5-1 lead entering the seventh but a two-run home run by Rochelle Schulze of the Pumas (20-6) off of the glove of left fielder Julia Arteaga cut the lead to 5-3. Megan August and Hannah Chew followed with singles, with August beating the throw to third. Chew took second on the throw.
Mestas then got Mariah Gabriel to hit a soft pop up to first. Next up was No. 9 hitter Natalie Oropeza, a pest with a devious skill for fouling off two-strike pitches who drew three walks in her first three plate appearances. Mestas got ahead 0-2, then Oropeza fouled off three consecutive pitches. Finally, Oropeza sent a ground ball to the right of shortstop Jacee Almond, who made the play and threw Oropeza out.
Clayton Valley advanced to Wednesday's semifinal at 4 p.m. at Alhambra.
"The last inning, I just had to find it," Mestas said. "I had to throw strikes and just let my team do all the work. I couldn't strike anyone out and my arm was tired. But I know my team has got my back. That was my plan, just to get them to hit ground balls and put the ball in play so my team could do the rest."
Mestas was understandably tired, needing 164 pitches to finish off the win. She struck out seven but walked eight. She also was touched for a solo home run by Shelby Holzworth, a shot that cleared the center field wall by plenty.
The Eagles gave Mestas plenty of support, knocking out 10 hits and jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first. The RBIs were spread amongst five players with first baseman Ashley Daniels driving in one to go along with two hits and a run scored.
Coach Kristen Morley said she recently dropped Daniels down to seventh in the order to try to get her better pitches to hit. The strategy paid off. She singled in Rachel Silver during a two-run fourth and hit a one-out double in the sixth and eventually scored.