The Saddleback softball team had an improbable win on Wednesday when it rallied from down 12-0 to win 7-0. Confused yet? So is everyone that was at the game.
Saddleback gave up 10 runs in the opening inning as Golden West shot out of the gate by collecting nine hits and taking advantage of two Gaucho errors in the field. Things were so quiet in the Saddleback dugout that you could hear a pin drop.
The game settled down until the top of the fifth inning when Golden West added two more runs for a 12-0 lead, meaning Saddleback would have to score five times in the bottom half of the inning in order to keep the game going due to the 8-run rule.
Saddleback saw its first two players retired in the bottom half of the inning as Bridget Thornton popped out and Samanna Trinh struck out swinging, leaving the Gauchos with one out remaining and no runners on base. Hylah Prussak finally broke through with a single to get things started in the 11th hour. A pair of walks followed from Rylee Argue and McKenna Walton, loading the bases. Haliegh Wilkerson finally got Saddleback on the scoreboard with a single through the left side of the infield to cut the deficit to 12-2.
With things starting to get dicey for Golden West, the Rustlers made a pitching change and brought in Jennifer Eberhardt to stop the bleeding. She immediately walked Jasmine Beverly, loading the bases again for the Gauchos. Carlee Russo then followed with another walk to give Saddleback a third run and put them within two of avoiding the 8-run rule at 12-3.
Haley Rose was the next batter, needing a hit to keep the game alive. She delivered with a single to drive in Wilkerson and Beverly, cutting the deficit to 12-5. Russo was cut down at third base trying to advance on the play, ending the inning.
Saddleback came up in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Gauchos were suddenly feeling alive. Golden West gave them more life when Thornton lead off the inning with a grounder to third base which was thrown wild by Rheanna Davis, sending Thornton to second base. Kacie Tatman then followed with a double to left center field to cut the deficit to 12-6. Following a ground out for the first out of the inning, Argue singled home Tatman from third base and suddenly Saddleback had a lot of life down 12-7 with just one out in the inning. Walton then stood in the batter's box and was quickly plunked by the pitcher, putting runners on first and second with one out in the inning.
With things starting to get away from Golden West, the Rustlers opted to put starting pitcher Cami Cohen back in the game in order to change the momentum. Cohen had left the game with a 12-0 lead just over an inning earlier and seemed the logical decision with the bullpen flailing. Her first batter was Beverly who hit a ball to shortstop Alyssa Aragon, who booted the ball and allowed another run to score. Up next was Russo, who clobbered a single to right field to score two more runs as the deficit was cut to 12-9.
Rose was the next scheduled batter when things came to a halt as one of the Golden West players was tossed from the game for arguing with the umpires. After a short delay, Saddleback was declared the winner of the game by forfeit as the Rustlers no longer had enough players to continue playing. By way of NCAA rules, a team must have all positions covered to continue playing and Golden West had used all of its available players. Furthermore, if a team has to forfeit, the winning team is given a 7-0 victory.
Happy Valentine's Day, Gauchos. How sweet it is!
Wilkerson led Saddleback on offense, finishing 3-for-4 with two RBI. Neither teams pitcher was credited with a win or loss by way of NCAA rules.
Saddleback improves to 2-4 overall with the win. The Gauchos will try to win in a more conventional way this Friday when they travel to the Mt. San Jacinto College Tournament to face Allan Hancock College. The first pitch is scheduled for 12:00 PM in Menifee, California.