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Mt. SAC Softball Advances to CCCAA Super Regionals

Mt. SAC's Briana Wheeler focused on her 23rd win of the year.
Mt. SAC's Briana Wheeler focused on her 23rd win of the year.

(Walnut, CA) For the thirteenth time in the last fifteen years, the Mt. SAC Softball Team has advanced to the CCCAA Super Regionals.  The Mounties defeated Cerritos, 4-0, in third game of a 3 game series, in the CCCAA Softball Regional Play-Offs first round on Saturday afternoon.  

The Mounties (38-5) captured the first game (8-4) on Friday, but lost the second game on Saturday afternoon, 8-4, to set up the crucial game three against the Falcons.

"It's good to see us come back from that first-game loss (Saturday)," Mt. SAC seventh-year coach Ruby Rojas said. "The defense really got us pumped up in the second game, especially Quinn's (De Avila) play at short."

"It's great to be moving on to the Super Regionals next week."

In the best-of-three series in the Super Regionals next Friday (5/10), the top-seeded Mounties will host No. 8 seed Santiago Canyon (25-16-1) at 7:00 pm. Mt. SAC defeated Santiago Canyon twice earlier in the season.

In the first game on Saturday, the Mounties built up a, 4-0, lead by the third inning. That lead disappeared by the fifth, when the Falcons (22-20) scored five runs.  Cerritos scored three more in the seventh for the, 8-4, lead and never looked back to even up the series.

Realizing their backs were against the wall in game two of the afternoon, the Mounties built a picket fence with solo runs in the second through the sixth, with a board (run) missing in the fourth.

The Mounties hit their 36th and 37th home runs of the year, as left fielder Candace Haliburton (2 for 4, 2 runs scored, RBI) hit her third of the season and third baseman Ciara Granado (2 for 3, Dbl., R, RBI) hit her 10th. Center fielder Ally Longtree (2 for 4, RBI, SB) also had a pair of hits.

"It feels great, my hitting is coming in at the right moment," said Haliburton, who has a team-leading 54 hits, including five multiple-hit games in the last nine. "It's exciting going to the Super Regionals, but we just need to focus on the basics and play one game at a time."

Granado, who has 12 hits in the last eight games, realized she was in a little slump early in the season and said "now I'm back on it."

"I feel confident and relaxed now. In that first game I think we just cruised a little bit and didn't hit the nail on the head and could have done better. In the second game, we really cleaned it up."

Meanwhile, Briana Wheeler sailed through seven innings in the circle, scattering three hits and had three strikeouts.

Wheeler, who won her 23rd game against only one loss, retired the side three times and faced only 26 batters.

"I'm super excited to go to the Super Regionals and I think I'm a different player now, mentally, physically and everything and more prepped too," Wheeler said.

One bit of a good luck charm that's been around the field for years is the famous "fake" cow and it was up on the hill beyond centerfield amongst the real cows for the first game Saturday. But shortly after the loss, the cow was seen leaving the scene by two players.

"We had it next to our dugout (Friday) and we won," said Wheeler with a smile. "But someone moved it to the hill for Saturdays' game. I wasn't going to say anything, being that I'm very superstitious, but after the loss (Saturday morning) they put it right back (next to the dugout). It's the cow, it's the cow."

The sound of cow bells could be heard from a couple of the players in the dugout after the game-three win.

After the two errors in the first game (on Saturday) that led to half of the eight runs, the Mounties tightened things up and saw some sparkling plays, especially at short stop by Quinn De Avila in the second-game shutout.

De Avila made a incredible diving catch in the fifth inning that sparked the team and killed the flight of the Falcons.

"It's important to have the three components of winning the game," said De Avila, "pitching, hitting and clutch defense."

"I feel like if my pitcher is working and my teammate's are working, that's the least I can do. These types of games in playoffs are all about momentum. I'm just glad I was able to produce for my team."

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