The California Pintos softball team went undefeated at the California Tournament on Sept. 14 en route to the championship.
The Pintos defeated the California junior varsity team 12-0 in the first game. California then defeated the St. Elizabeth Hornets 7-2 in its second game. In the championship game, the Pintos came back from an early 5-0 deficit to defeat the Versailles Tigers 8-5. The Pintos are now 10-1 on the season.
Head coach Steven Stock said the comeback shows the team can fight.
"We chipped away and told the girls, 'We are down 5-0, (but) if we get a couple here, a couple there,' and they did just that, and they were able to score late and get the win," Stock said.
The championship game did not start off on the best foot for California, as Versailles loaded the bases in the top of the first inning with no outs. Versailles got on the board after some miscommunication on a ground ball to first base led to no play being made and every runner being safe to give Versailles a 1-0 lead. The Pintos then got the first out of the game after a ground out to third base, while another run scored to make it 2-0.
Pitcher Lauren Spillars struck out the next batter for out number two, but Versailles scored another run after the next batter hit a ground ball that went off Spillars' glove to make it 3-0. Versailles scored its final run of the inning during a run down between first and second base that allowed the runner from third to score.
California had some base runners on in the first inning, as Spillars led the inning off with a single, followed by another hit by Lauren Hill. With two runners on and one out, Ella Percival got on base with a infield hit to load the bases. But California would not be able to score.
In the top of the second inning, the Pintos got two quick outs, but the Tigers got a base runner thanks to an error by California. Versailles then scored that runner off of another error to make it 5-0.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Pintos got back into the game as Alexis Mullen hit a single with one out. Sydney Percival also got on with a base hit. Hill then scored the first runs of the game for California with a two-run double to make it 5-2.
After a 1-2-3 top of the third inning, California tied the game in the bottom half of the inning. With a runner on base and one out, Mariah Mills ended up on third on her base hit that scored a run to make it 5-3. Kaylena Riggs then brought her home on a single to make it 5-4. After back-to-back hits by Mullen and Sydney Percival loaded the bases, Spillars grounded out but the tying run scored to make it 5-5.
Stock said the team had better at bats in the innings in which they scored.
"Once we had seen the pitcher a couple of times, our timing got better, and we started to put the bat on the ball a little bit better and that led to a few runs," Stock said.
Neither team would really get anything going into the bottom of the sixth inning. Spillars got on base after the ball went off of Versailles' second baseman's glove. Hill then hit a rocket past the third baseman to get on base. With two runners on, Camryn Schlup had a long battle at the plate before hitting an RBI double to left field that gave California a 6-5 lead. The Pintos added two more runs to secure the win.
The Pintos finished the game with eight runs on 10 hits and had four errors in the game. Versailles had five runs on three hits and also had four errors in the game. Most of the Pintos' errors came early in the game, but after the second inning, the team played much better defense.
"Number one, you've got to come ready to play, and I think early on we kind of felt that Versailles had struggled the last couple of years, and they have slowly gotten better and better," Stock said. "We came in, and I don't know if we were focused to play, and they jumped on us early. And once we chipped away and got back to close, I think (the players) just concentrated a little bit more and played a better game on the field."