Catalina Maldonado unloaded her seventh home run on Thursday, leading Carpinteria’s Warriors back from their first deficit of the postseason to record a 7-3 victory in the quarterfinals of the CIF Division-6 Tournament.
It marks this first time in school history that the softball team has reached a CIF semifinal.
“These girls don’t want to be done. They’re gonna to do everything they can to keep playing,” said Warriors coach Ray Gonzalez.
The Warriors’ playoff run has consisted of three-straight home games, a rarity in CIF play. Thursday’s crowd was the largest of the three, with fans crowding the bleachers, down each foul line, and around the outfield fences.
The home crowd was treated to another strong defensive showing from Carpinteria, which needed to come from behind to get the victory.
“That’s what this group does. They do let it get to them too much,” said Warriors head coach Henry Gonzales. “They don’t get down. They just keep playing and that’s what you have to do.”
Facing their first deficit of the postseason, the Warriors put themselves in the lead for good on a two-run home run by Maldonado in the bottom of the third inning. The seven home runs for Maldonado are a new single-season school record at Carpinteria.
Maldonado finished the day 3-for-4 with a home run, double and four RBI.
The Trojans took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 with runs in the first and third innings.
“We just knew that we had to bring up our intensity up after that,” said Carpinteria first baseman Tatiana Verdugo.
Verdugo was 3-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single that scored Erin Saito in the bottom of the fifth.
Yucca Valley continued to threaten after the third inning but couldn’t do more than score one more in the top of the sixth. The Trojans loaded the bases in that inning and put two more runners on in the top of the seventh.
“They were a really good hitting team,” said Maldonado, who recorded three strikeouts in seven innings. “I just had to pitch in the zone.”
The Warriors have won 16 games in a row with Maldonado as their starting pitcher. On Thursday, the junior right-hander limited the Trojans to their lowest offensive output in nine games.
“I know that I have a great defense behind me and I just have to do my best,” Maldonado said.
Carpinteria will travel for its semifinal game on Tuesday. The opponent will likely be second-seeded Calvary Chapel-Downey, which faced Kern Valley on Thursday.
“If they have to go to CCD, they’re going to see a really good team,” said Yucca Valley head coach Dennis Priest.
The CIF championship game will be played on Friday or Saturday of next week in Irvine.
Yucca Valley’s Teresa Nava was 2-for-4, including a double in the first inning and a run scored in the third. Rebecca Erickson also had two hits, plus an RBI and run scored.
CARPINTERIA 7, YUCCA VALLEY 3
YV 101 001 0 – 3 6 4
Carp 012 013 x – 7 9 1
YV – Gonzales, and Sullivan. C – Maldonado, and Rodriguez. 2b – YV Nava, C Maldonado. HR – Maldonado (3rd inning, 1 on)