By Andrew Wheeler
Citrus College Sports Information Coordinator
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Mt. San Antonio College sophomore second baseman Miranda Larios came up with a pair of huge plays on Friday evening to help send the Mounties through the winners bracket in the 2017 California Community College Athletic Association State Softball Championships. Larios scored the game tying run in the top of the fifth inning, and then drove in the game winning run in the top of the sixth to give Mt. SAC a 3-2 victory over NorCal #1 College of San Mateo.
Runs were at a premium in the early going, with Mt. SAC stranding eight runners through the first four innings, and San Mateo leaving six out on the base paths in that same stretch.
"We told the team that they just had to stay relaxed and stay composed," said Mt. San Antonio College Head Coach Ruby Rojas of the early marooned runners. "We couldn't look forward, and we couldn't look backwards, we needed to win that moment."
The Mounties would score the game's first run in the top of the second. Mt. SAC loaded up the bases after a one-out walk by sophomore Alyssa Rasso, a single back up the middle by sophomore Racqual Espinoza, and when sophomore Kristen Williams was hit by a Bulldog pitch. Sophomore All-State selection Kayla Sok would follow that up with a single through the left side of the field for the 1-0 advantage.
San Mateo would respond an inning later, and did so thanks to some Mt. SAC miscues in the field. Freshman Emily Cotla would tie the game up scoring from second base after an error by the Mounties on an attempted Bulldog sacrifice. Three at bats later, sophomore Jordan Davis would draw a bases loaded RBI walk to give CSM a 2-1 lead.
The Bulldogs would maintain the lead until the top of the fifth. This time it was San Mateo's turn to commit an important error, as a routine throw back from the pitcher to the first baseman sailed into right field and allowed sophomore Miranda Larios to advance all the way to third base on the play. A few pitches later, sophomore Toni Mendoza laced a single to left-center field to tie the game up at two runs a piece.
In the top of the sixth, Mt. SAC would move back in front with a two-out rally. Sophomore Taylor Jaurique would draw a walk, and then went to second on a wild pitch. Larios would come through once again for the Mounties, hitting a solid single to right field that made it 3-2.
"She [Larios] is my glue," Rojas said. "She's probably the most underrated player on our team. She's very selfless, and a clutch player. She proved that tonight."
With the lead now back in the hands of the Mounties, sophomore All-State pitcher Tiffany Kennedy-Cummings (17-1) went to work in the circle. Kennedy-Cummings set the final six Bulldog batters down in order, fanning two of them, and getting a great assist in the form of a fly-out to the left fielder sophomore Aleyah Wilbon, who tracked down the ball at the wall, turning a sure double into an out.
Larios and Sok would each finish the day 2-for-4 at the plate, while San Mateo was paced by sophomore catcher Allie Stines who was 3-for-4.
The Mounties advanced to the first semi-final game of the weekend, and will take on the winner of the nightcap between SoCal #1 Cypress College and NorCal #2 San Joaquin Delta College tomorrow at 3:00 PM. San Mateo meanwhile moves into the elimination bracket and will take on the losing team of tonight's game tomorrow evening at approximately 5:30 PM.