By Kyle Foster
Twitter: @NapaKyle @NapaSportsLive
Fair Oaks-It was a gut wrencher. The Napa High softball team came away victorious over top-seeded Del Campo by the score of 8-7 in eight innings.
“I’m exhausted to tell you the truth,” Napa coach Ron Walston said after the thrilling victory. “You know these kids they never quit. I’ve said this many times I’ve coached these kids since they were little girls — they never quit, that hasn’t changed. We’re ecstatic. I’m at a loss for words right now.”
The Indians’ (19-8) scored the first run of the game in the top of the first. Grace Guzman singled and moved up on a Brianna Bowers walk and when Peyton Mott was hit by a pitch. Guzman came home on a Katie O’Donnell single.
Napa added another run in the top of the fourth. Haylee Giarritta singled and moved up to second on a Abby Arata sacrifice bunt before scoring on a Guzman single.
The biggest play of the game came in the bottom of the fourth when the Cougars’ (20-3) had the bases loaded with one out and Alana Isais scorched a line drive up the middle, but Napa junior second baseman Lindsey Lehman layed out to make a diving catch and after making the catch flipped the ball to Napa shortstop Haylee Giarritta for a inning ending double play.
“It was really exciting and it was actually the first time I’ve dove in a game since my two surgeries last year, so it was kind of unexpected, but it just happened and it was really exciting,” Lehman said of her diving play. “And I’m really glad that I was able to make that play.”
“That saved the game for us honestly,” Walston said of Lehman’s grab. “If that hit goes through and we don’t double them off they scored it could change the whole outcome. And I’m so happy for her, she had both shoulders operated on and there was a point this season that she was afraid to dive. She laid it out — I mean literally horizontal — that’s the play of the year, that saved our season right there.”
Del Campo got on the board with a two-run bottom of the fifth. Emily Rond doubled and Sammie Luckie double to set up the chance before Natalie Nash doubled both of them home.
As a response to the Del Campo rally in the previous half inning Napa came back and scored three runs in the top of the sixth. McKenna Walls singled and scored on an error by Luckie, the catcher for Del Campo. Then, Giarritta who had singled to get on scored when Guzman reached on a error by Nash at shortstop. Finally, Arata who reached on Luckies error came home when Bowers grounded out.
From there the game became crazy. In the bottom of the seventh with Napa needing just three outs to move on Del Campo scored three runs to force the game to extras. In the inning there was two errors made by the Indians that helped fuel the rally.
In the eighth inning Napa scored what proved to be three very crucial runs. It all started on a Giarritta single and another Arata sacrifice bunt before Guzman brought in Giarritta. After taking second base on the throw Guzman scored on a Bowers single. The final run came when Peyton Mott missed a home run by near inches on a ball hit into the left-center gap, but it ended up being a double to plate Bowers.
In the eighth, however, the nationally and state ranked Cougars fought back. After an error and a pair of doubles Del Campo was within a run of a tied game again, but the Indians buckled down and got the outs they needed. The final out came by way of a Jenna Baker strikeout.
“Jenna she’s a fighter,” Walston said of Baker pitching through a pair of errors in the bottom of the eighth. “Just when things are down she seems to pull it out. She did that like you said last year against this team and she works hard. We had some outstanding plays behind her that helped us get to the point to where we could work with a lead, play with a lead.”
The win moves the Indians onto the double elimination part of the playoffs. They’ll play Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton and no matter what win or lose play Tuesday at 5 p.m. again at Arnaiz.
“This playoff format getting through the first two is always the toughest,” Walston said of moving onto the double elimination part. “We played the nine seed the other day and then right out of the gate we get the number one. It just shows the character of these kids, they want it, they were there last year, they know what it takes. It looked a little grim there for a minute, but these kids love each other, they play of each other, and I’m so proud of them. I can’t tell you how proud of them I am.”
Napa will have yet another rematch from last year’s postseason when the meet Bella Vista- Fair Oaks on Saturday. To view the full updated bracket go here.
The win is also the Indians third one-run win over Del Campo in the last two seasons.
“We’re just fighters,” Lehman explained beating the Cougars again. “I don’t know what it is. We make the plays when we need to and we get the hits when we need to and no matter what we’re always going to fight — that’s what I like about our team.”