SAN JOSE -- The Archbishop Mitty softball team left no doubt. A season of single-minded dedication to a goal ended with the objective achieved in a 7-4 win over Pioneer for the Central Coast Section Division II championship.
It was Mitty's third CCS title in the last four years, seventh in the last nine years and 12th overall. But the one they missed out on last year made this one all the sweeter. A year ago the Monarchs, in their familiar role as prohibitive favorites, were upset in the CCS quarterfinals
"This is a different group with a different emotion,'' Mitty coach Brian Yocke said. "But that was a good reminder that these kinds of things don't just happen. The girls did a great job of preparing themselves.''
Mitty (30-1) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and more than a few in the capacity crowd on hand at PAL Stadium had the idea that a blowout might be in the making.
But Pioneer (24-5) drew strength from its own self-image of being a special team having a special season, and the Mustangs rallied with three in the third, getting RBI singles from Caitlyn Weisner and Maddie Carlson, to pull to within 4-3. The third out was recorded on an outstanding diving catch by Mitty right fielder Danielle Bowers.
"Dani makes those plays all year, every practice, every game, every drill,'' Yocke said. "On the biggest stage she still makes that play.''
Airtight defense was needed for Pioneer to entertain thoughts of an upset, but the Mustangs committed four errors in the first four innings, Mitty star Jazmyn Jackson reached on an error to start the first-inning rally. Rebecca Ortiz reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the fourth and Mitty went on to score three runs and open a 7-3 lead.
"We told the girls if we got nine hits we'd have a good chance to win,'' Pioneer coach Ernie Garcia said. "We got 11 to seven for Mitty, but the problem was our defense. It came back to bite us.''
Trailing 7-3 heading to its final at-bat, Pioneer got back-to-back singles to start the seventh, but Jackson turned a ground ball to shortstop into a double play to short-circuit the rally. Alex Luna followed with an RBI single, her third hit of the game, but Stephanie Kristo struck out the next batter to end the game and set off the celebration.
Madeleine Kim had a single, double and triple in three at-bats for Mitty. Desiree Severance had two hits and two RBIs. Jackson, in her final game before moving on to Cal, reached base in all four plate appearances, scored two runs, stole a base and used her speed to double on a grounder past second base.
Carlmont 8, San Benito 1: Carlmont (27-3) turned in a dominant performance and denied eight-time defending champion San Benito a record-tying ninth consecutive CCS championship.
Senior left-handed pitcher Rebecca Faulkner took a one-hit shutout into the seventh inning. The Haybalers got to her for two hits and a run in the seventh before she recorded the final out. She struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.
"I was a little tired but with the adrenaline rush I just wanted to make sure I stayed calm,'' Faulkner said. "It was one of those days where everything was working.''
It was the eighth CCS title in program history for Carlmont and its first since 2004.
"It means the world '' Faulkner said.
Carlmont coach Jim Liggett, the winningest softball coach in state history, noted the productivity he's received this season up and down the lineup.
"All nine in the starting lineup are hitting over .300,'' Liggett said. "Most are over .400.''
Against San Benito the Scots scored four runs in the second inning with RBI base hits coming from No. 8 hitter Kelsey Ching and No. 9 hitter Missy Pekarek. Then in a two-run fourth Pekarek had another run-scoring single.
"We've been waiting to do this for four years,'' said Pekarek, a senior right fielder. "We wanted to go out beating the team we'd been losing to. We did it and I'm so happy.''
Faulkner, who will play in college at UC Riverside, helped herself out at bat, as well. She had an RBI single in the fourth and a run-scoring triple in the sixth.
"Hitting's the fun part,'' she said, "just let loose and let it fly.''