By Kevin Wilson
Saturday’s 12-and-under semifinal in the USSSA state softball tournament marked the first time that Power II had trailed all season.
Judging by the outcome, the team didn’t like that very much.
Lorne Garcia’s two-run, two-out single capped off a late comeback, giving Power II a 9-8 win over Spitfire and a spot in today’s championship game at Guy Leeder Softball Complex.
Power II will play at 11 a.m. against an opponent to be determined. That opponent could be Spitfire, which plays at 10 a.m. in a loser-out game.
Early indications favored Spitfire, as the yellow-and-red-clad girls opened the game with six consecutive hits and jumped out to a 5-0 lead. However, Power II also got off to a hot start, as its first five batters reached base in a four-run first.
Both defenses settled down after the first, and the only runs scored over the next four innings came in Power II’s fourth. Garcia and Samantha Sanchez each had RBI singles to give the purple-colored squad its first lead at 6-5.
The lead went right back to Spitfire in the sixth, as it ended pitcher Kathryn Rubio’s scoreless streak at four innings. Brittany Mascarenes, Nicole Anaya and Kolby Rains all had RBI singles to reclaim the advantage, 8-5.
The rest of the game belonged to Power II, though. Garcia scored in the sixth inning on April Stark’s single to cut the lead to one, then Rubio pitched a scoreless seventh inning to keep comeback hopes alive.
With runners on first and second, Spitfire opted to intentionally walk Shyla Payne to load the bases with one out. Tamara Anderson flied out to left, but Garcia came through with a single to score the tying and winning runs.
Despite getting off to a bad start, Power II advanced with its defense. Coach Julio Rubio thought the defense made all the difference down the stretch.
“Our defense, both infield and outfield, came through tonight,” Rubio said. “They made the catches when they had to make the catches. Our pitching was superb, as usual.”
Spitfire took a hard defeat, but coach Ronnie Anaya was upbeat and hoped his team could get another chance at Power II on Sunday.
“The girls played hard,” Anaya said. “We did a good job. We had some errors, they had some good hits. It just didn’t go our way.
“The girls fought and hustled. You can’t ask for anything more.”