The Turlock Christian High varsity softball team is moving on to the semifinal game of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII after pulling off the 17-5 upset mercy rule win over the #2 seed in Vacaville Christian on Tuesday afternoon at the Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton.
“My team played unbelievable, I was wondering if it was the same group of girls as I had seen all year,” said TC head coach Randy Hopkins.
It was the same team for Hopkins but the mentality and adrenaline of the playoffs ran just took over as they dominated the game from the onset.
Behind starting pitcher Cassie Balswick, the Eagles built a 6-0 lead after the first inning with multiple bunts, timely hits and taking advantage of Vacaville's mistakes.
“The team was extra motivated and pumped up,” Hopkins said. “We haven't made the playoffs in a while, let alone win a game close to 10 years or something like that and after that first inning we got pumped and knew we could play with this team and it gave us confidence throughout the rest of the game.”
TC tacked on seven more runs in the second inning and after taking a 13-0 lead heading into the third inning, the Eagles looked destined to break the spell of over a decade without a postseason win. In fact, the last time the team even made the playoffs was in 2010.
“When we were up big in the third the other team just look stunned because they felt they could beat us a #7 seed and they were shocked,” said Hopkins. “There were definitely some tears at that point from their dugout and we are happy to be heading into the next round.”
Starter Balswick struck out five in only six innings of work behind a defense that normally does not play as consistent as they did on Tuesday.
“Cassie threw a great game,” Hopkins said. “Just a great game from our defense as well though, which is not always that great, but tonight they played great and kept the ball in the infield. They all just played like I never seen them before.”
Aimee Jones was 4-for-5, Madison Yagi and Abbie Morelli each tallied two hits apiece behind an offense that accumulated 19 hits for the game. Balswick led the team with a perfect 5-for-5 performance from the plate with two triples.
All but one of the team’s starters managed to get at least a hit for the game.
“There was just an explosion offensively and we don't normally do it. It’s the first time we have done that all year and it was amazing, the girls were pumped,” Hopkins said.
With a 14-3 lead heading in the fifth inning, the Falcons of Vacaville scored two more runs to keep the game going and with a 14-5 score, the Eagles tacked on three more runs and Balswick struck out two of the final three batters faced to end the teams' playoff drought.
“If we play like this, well then we can win and beat anybody, but we have to take one game at a time,” said Hopkins after the big win. “But we need to get what we learned and take it into the next game and its muscle memory and as a coach I need to keep them pumped up and motivated.”
The Eagles will next take on their Central California Athletic Alliance rivals in the semifinal matchup, the #3 seed, Jim Elliot Christian, at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“They beat us twice but if we play like we did tonight then we will be in the game,” Hopkins added.