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Mt. SAC Softball advances to 3C2A State Championships with 7-0 win over El Camino

Sophomore pitcher Alyssa Rubalcava with the complete game shutout. (Photo Courtesy of DavesSportsImage)
Sophomore pitcher Alyssa Rubalcava with the complete game shutout. (Photo Courtesy of DavesSportsImage)

(Walnut, CA) For the 16th time in the last 20 seasons, the Mt. SAC Softball team has advanced to the 3C2A State Championships with a 7-0 shutout over visiting El Camino on Saturday, May 11.

"This team is just very connected, and that's probably our biggest asset and strength," Mt. SAC Softball Head Coach Ruby Rojas said. "I'm just proud of our team, and it's part of our culture. We're not done, and we don't work our (butts) off just to get to the state championships. We work them off to win the very last game."

After losing the second game of the best-of-three series, 4-3, to El Camino, the stage was set for a winner-take-all third game, and Mt. SAC came through with the win.

The Mounties, with a complete-game performance by sophomore pitcher Alyssa Rubalcava in the clincher, will open state championship action on Thursday, May 16, at West Valley College in Saratoga.

Freshman 3C2A All SoCal player Morgan Kneubuhler opened the scoring for the Mounties with an RBI single in the first inning, scoring Rubalcava.

Rubalcava (1-4, 2 R, 2 RBI), with her 11th win of the season, scattered four hits in the game. She also led with her bat with a two-run single for the 3-0 lead in the fifth inning, scoring third baseman Janis Espinoza and first baseman Audrey White (1-2, 2 R).

"I'm just so excited and excited to see how we finish in the state championships," said Rubalcava, who was named to the 3C2A All SoCal team. "I just stayed composed and realized that pressure is a privilege and just locked in and focused on the batter."

Leading the way for the Mounties was Espinoza (2-3, R, 2 RBI, SB) with two hits, while left-fielder Gabrielle Flores connected for a two-run home run for the 5-0 lead in the fifth inning.

"It's honestly been super surreal," said Espinoza, of the second year in a row for the sophomores to be going to the state championships. "I talk about it with the other sophomores. It feels like it was just yesterday that we got here (to Mt. SAC), and now we're in our final week. Where I'm at right now, I couldn't have done it without Team 23 as well. Those are girls who pushed me as well…and stepping up to be a team leader."

Espinoza, who was named to the 3C2A All-State South team for the second year in a row, finished off the scoring in the sixth inning for the 7-0 lead with a two-run single, scoring White and second baseman Amanda Esquivel (1-3, R).

"Janis (Espinoza) is just amazing, and she thrives on the pressure," Rojas added. "Her athletic ability is off the charts and is just an amazing young lady."

The Mounties will open up against San Joaquin Delta on Thursday, May 16 at 5 p.m. in the 3C2A State Championships.