(Walnut, CA) The Mt. SAC Softball Team scored four runs in the first inning and freshman pitcher Briana Wheeler struck out 12 in route to a 6-3 win over visiting Fullerton College Friday night in the CCCAA Southern California Regionals in the best of three series.
The Mounties, seeded second in the 16-team bracket, improved to 34-7 and can advance to the second round with a victory on Saturday.
"That's been our philosophy to always score first and to set the tone," said Mt. SAC coach Ruby Rojas of the quick four-run start. "That's what we want to do again (Saturday)."
With the win Wheeler improved to 20-5 on the season and her 12 Ks was the high for the year.
"Scoring the four runs in the first inning was awesome," Wheeler said. "As for my pitching, they (Fullerton) couldn't really hit my rise ball. It was good getting ahead with that and throwing a couple of other pitches and coming back with that."
Leading the way for the Mounties was left fielder Caitlyn Felina with a perfect day at the plate going 3 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Third baseman Ciara Granado (2 for 4, R) and right fielder Vicky Gutierrez (2 for 3, Tpl., 3 RBIs) collected two hits each.
With the Mounties leading 1-0, the big blow in the first inning came off the bat of Guitierrez with her three-run triple, scoring Granado, Michelle Banales and Michelle Santiago. The line-drive shot sailed over the left fielders head against the fence for the 4-0 lead.
The Hornets answered two innings later with a three-run home run to trail by one run, 4-3.
After the three-run homer, Wheeler basically shut Fullerton down retiring 13 of the last 14 batters, which included eight Ks.
Mt. SAC extended the lead to 5-3 on a run-scoring single to left field by Granado. Her hit scored shortstop Carissa Felix, who singled and moved into scoring position on an infield hit by Felina.
A big insurance run came across in the sixth inning when pinch hitter Jackie Olvera hit single to center field, scoring second baseman Amanda Esquivel, who opened the inning with a walk.
"Getting that extra run kind of shut the door a little bit," Olvera said. "I just went out there and did my job."
"Winning that first game is the key. You have to win that first game so you don't have to come back the second day and play back-to-back."
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For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.