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Mt. SAC Softball Advances to 11th CCCAA State Championship Game; Defeats Palomar, 5-1

Mt. SAC Softball infielders huddle at the circle
Next Stop, Championship Sunday!

(Walnut, CA) For the 10th time in the last 16 years, the Mt. SAC Softball Team has advanced to the California Community College Athletic Association championship game with a 5-1 win over South Seed No. 1 Palomar Saturday afternoon.

Beginning with their first of four CCCAA championships in 2003, the Mounties are back in the title game for the second year in a row and third in the last five years.

The South No. 2 seed Mounties (40-7) will face No. 1 South seed Palomar for the second time in two days as the Comets won an elimination game Saturday night, 7-6 over defending champion No. 3 South seed Cypress.

The Mounties have faced Palomar 10 times since 2013 in nonconference and playoff games and are 6-4 against the Comets.

Mt. SAC came out firing on all cylinders scoring all five runs in the first inning and Briana Wheeler (26-5) pitched a complete-game, four-hitter.

"This is exactly where we want to be," Mt. SAC coach Ruby Rojas said. "Hitting is contagious and that's what we wanted to go out and do is be aggressive. That's exactly what the girls did and that's what they capitalized on."

In that first inning, Mt. SAC shortstop Carissa Felix led off with a walk, followed by a bunt single by Caitlyn Felina (1 for 3, R) to put runners on first and second.

One out later, first baseman Michelle Banales walked to load the bases for catcher Michelle Santiago (1 for 3, R, RBI), who has had a great state championship for the Mounties with two home runs.

Santiago, however, singled in the first run, scoring Felix to open the flood gates for the Mounties.

That was the first run allowed by the Palomar starter in the state championships in two games. It was also her first loss of the season after starting 27-0.

Left fielder Candace Haliburton (1 for 3, R, RBI) singled to left field, scoring Felina for the 2-0 lead as the bases remained loaded for second baseman Amanda Esquivel (1 for 2, Dbl., 3 RBs).

Esquivel cleared the bases with a double to left-center and just like that the Mounties built up a 5-0 lead.

"I was just trying to stay focused," said Esquivel of her hit. "All I was trying to do was hit the ball hard and do what I had to do for my team. It just felt really good. We want to win it all now."

Esquivel had high praise for Wheeler, who has led the team this season in the circle.

"And Briana is amazing and never gives up, she stays in it all seven innings."

Wheeler scattered four hits, which included a solo home run in the sixth, but also struck out six Comet batters.

"This is what happens this time of the season, people just come through," said Rojas of Esquivel and Wheeler.

Follow Mt. SAC Softball on twitter @mtsac_softball

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For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.