(Walnut, CA) With one swing of the bat by sophomore left fielder Candace Haliburton, the Mt. SAC Softball Team is headed back to defend it's 2018 CCCAA State Championship by defeating Santiago Canyon, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon (5/11).
"It felt great before I even swung, with my mom and daughter here," Haliburton said. "I just wanted to hit it as far as I could. I really didn't know it would go out, because their centerfielder was catching everything yesterday. I was just hoping it would go over."
Haliburton, the first batter up in the bottom of the seventh, connected on the third pitch that launched the ball over the left-centerfield wall and sent the Mounties to the CCCAA State Championships.
"We're on the Energy Bus to Bakersfield," Mt. SAC Softball Head Coach Ruby Rojas replied. "...It's an awesome way to win and go to the state championships.
"It's the best Mothers Day gift given to her."
The Mounties, seeded No. 1 in Southern California, will return to the state tournament which runs Thursday through Sunday at Bakersfield College and Cal State Bakersfield.
This will be the 13th trip to the state championship for the Mounties, who will play their opening game against Sacramento City College Thursday (5/16). Game time is 4:30 pm.
In attendance at the game were members the 2009 State Championship Team who were honored during the game.
"This brings back so many memories," said Lisa Hernandez, a pitcher on the '09 team. "That feeling will never go away. I haven't seen most of my teammates in 10 years since the championship."
"It means everything now," said De Avila, of the Super Regional win. "It's great that we have another week to play with each other. All of the work that we've done in the fall is worth it now."
Pitching her fifth complete game of the season was Alexia Silvas (12-3). The freshman scattered six hits and struck out five batters. She struck out the side in the third inning.
Silvas was working on a no-hitter through the fifth inning, retiring seven consecutive batters from the second inning, to the first batter in the top of the fifth, when Santiago Canyon Pitcher Danielle Stallings hit a single to left field.
"I've been through this situation before in high school," Silvas said. "I was kind of nervous, but I just stayed within myself.
"We worked hard for this and I was filled with joy when (Haliburton) hit the home run."
Mt. SAC opened the scoring in the second inning when designated player Rayven Spencer reached on a fielders choice and Ramirez scored for the 1-0 lead.
Santiago Canyon scored in the fifth, after the single by Stallings, to tie the game at 1-1.
The Mounties re-took the lead in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Jessika Trujillo (1 for 3, RBI, SB), scoring Haliburton for the 2-1 lead.
The Hawks tied the game for the second time, 2-2, in the sixth.
Santiago Canyon opened the seventh inning with a hit, but Silvas retired the next three to end the inning and set the stage for the dramatic ending.
Follow Mt. SAC Softball on twitter @mtsac_softball
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.