Softball team sweeps Sequoias, on to state finalsBy: Pete Dufour
Rocklin – Before Sierra centerfielder Dani Toschi game to the plate in the seventh inning with her team tied 1-1 in the Super Regionals championship game against the College of the Sequioas, her teammates gave her a little pep talk.
That’s how this Wolverines team rolls ... all for one, one for all.
So when Toschi stepped into the batter’s box, she confidence and a plan.
“I just wanted to make good contact and hit the top half of the ball,” said the Sierra centerfielder, who had helped the Wolverines advance last week with a grand slam home run.
Toschi got the top half, the bottom half, and both sides of the ball. She got all of it and drove a pitch well over the right center field wall to give the Wolverines a 2-1 win over the Giants, a complete sweep of Regionals and Super Regionals and now a berth in the JC state finals, which begin Thursday in Pomona.
“I felt like I was just seeing the ball well today,” said Toschi, who was 3 for 3 on the day. “That was a good pitcher and a good team we beat.”
The Wolverines, who beat Sequioas 9-1 on Friday, have now won 15 in a row and have upped their season record to 37-7. For the state finals, Sierra will return to Mt. San Antonio College, the place where they lost two preseason games earlier in the season, which lead to a postgame challenge from head coach Darci Brownell.
“We gathered in the outfield after that second loss, and I asked them if they wanted to come back here,” said Brownell, who this year earned her second NorCal Coach of the Year award. “Since then, they have really bonded, fought through some adversity, and now they have a pretty good win streak going at just the right time.”
Sierra has been to the state finals before and won the championship in 2014.
Sierra 9, COS 1: Sierra briefly found itself trailing in a ballgame for only the second time during its current win streak as Sequioas third baseman Breanne Tabarez crushed a solo home run in the top of the first inning.
But the Wolverines answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, two more in the third and four in the fourth inning en route to five-inning run-rule win in the Super Regionals opener.
Catcher Toni Whipkey had three hits, including two doubles, and two runs batted in for the Wolverines. Lexie DeLozier and McKenna Anderson also had three hits, and shortstop Virgie Robello had the walk-off hit in the bottom of the fifth. The Wolverines banged out 14 hits on the day.
Robello and first baseman Julia Cummings each made sensational plays on defense to help Sierra pitcher Amaryssa Medina, who scattered five Giant hits to earn the win. Medina struck out seven batters and did not issue a walk, and has given up just one earned run in four postseason games. At the plate, the Sierra clean-up hitter had two hits and an RBI.
Sierra 2, Sequioas 1: In front of a packed house at Sierra, the Wolverines dug themselves a small hole in this game, committing three errors in the first three innings.
Sierra, which prides itself on great defense, had not had that many miscues in a game since, ironically, a Feb. 10 7-6 preseason win over the same COS team.
The Giants’ only run was unearned as Jenna Reyes reached on a two-base error in the third inning and scored on a base hit by Liz Valdez. Medina allowed just one baserunner the rest of the way and was aided by a sensational backhand play by third baseman Hanna Slaight in the fifth inning to retire Tabarez.
The Wolverines tied the game in the sixth inning as Robello drilled a base hit to left field, reached second base on Whipkey’s perfect sacrifice bunt, and scored on Medina’s base hit. That set the stage for Toschi’s big bomb in the sixth.
Medina was special again in the circle for the Wolverines. The Sierra ace gave up just two hits, two walks, struck out six and retired the last 12 batters she faced to pick up back-to-back wins.
“I had to battle today because they are a good hitting team,” Medina said. “But we always battle, and we’ll be ready for state.”