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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe California Pintos softball team ends its season with a record of 18-5.

The California Pintos softball team (18-5) had its season end Oct. 15 in a tough 3-2 loss to the Fatima Comets (13-11) in the semifinal round of the Class 3 District 5 Tournament.

California defeated Clinton (4-15) on Oct. 14 in the first round 10-0 and entered its matchup with Fatima ranked number 10 in Class 3.

Pintos’ head coach Steven Stock said the team made a couple mistakes against Fatima, and that led to a couple of runs.

“Credit to Fatima, they did not make any mistakes and that was the difference,” Stock said. “But we had a nice season. It did not end the way we wanted, but the biggest thing is that we had five seniors that turned this program around and that is what I told them. I was very proud, not only about the softball part of it but how they handled themselves and the part that they left here.”

The game was scoreless until the top of the third inning, when Fatima took a 1-0 lead. California tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, as with two runners on base, Ellie Clay hit a single to right field to tie the game. Fatima’s right fielder bobbled the ball while trying to field it, and Clay ended up on second base. Later in the inning with one out, Ella Percival gave California a 2-1 lead with a base hit up the middle on a 3-1 count to make it a 2-1 game.

The Comets fought back to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning. The Comets started the inning with a leadoff double on the first pitch of the inning. Later, with the tying run on third base and one out in the inning, a pitch got past home plate and allowed Fatima to bring a runner home to tie the game at 2.

In the bottom of the sixth, California had a chance to retake the lead with runners on second and first and two outs, but the inning ended in a ground out.

The Comets took the lead in the top of the seventh inning as they had a runner on second base with two outs. The Comets scored their final run of the game off a base hit on a fly ball that went over first base and landed in right field, making it a 3-2 final score.

Stock said that after Fatima retook the lead, the Pintos had to get a runner on base.

“Give Fatima credit, that girl that got the little base hit in the top of the inning, you know, it got us down. But there is nothing you can do; you’ve got to come up and try to get a runner on base and credit to their pitcher and their defense, we just could not do it.”

In the bottom of the seventh, the Pintos were quickly down to their last out after the first two batters grounded out back to the pitcher. The Pintos’ season ended on a strikeout.

California only had four hits in the game, and Stock said Fatima’s pitcher, Chayce Gier, was just better than California was on the day of the game. The Pintos struck out 10 times as a team in the game.

“Fatima’s pitcher had a nice little curveball, moves the ball as she pitches. She is not overpowering or anything, but she pitches well, and today, she was just better than we were,” Stock said. “We needed to get a big hit, and we just could not find that big hit.”

California scored its two runs on four hits and had one error in the game. Camryn Schlup struck out seven batters for California. Fatima scored its three runs on seven hits and also had one error in the game.

For the players who will return next season, Stock said this loss tells them there is a lot of hard work ahead of them if they want to continue the success California has had the last couple of years.

“If they really want to compete and they want to be committed and continue what California softball has become. It just tells them that they have a lot of hard work ahead of them,” Stock said. “We have to work hard, play hard and enjoy the game. But to get to the level that we are at now, it takes time and it takes work. So hopefully, it will give them some drive and want to continue.”

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