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May 21, 2022

‘Catz win thriller against San Benito in extra innings | High school softball

Mariah Segura hits three home runs for Watsonville

WATSONVILLE—The dream scenario for most softball players is having a chance to win it all for their team with one swing of the bat.

Watsonville High junior Abreanna Alba was given that opportunity in Wednesday’s shootout against San Benito High.  

“I felt like throwing up, my legs were shaking up there,” she said. “I was like, ‘Damn, I have to do something.’ And then I hella did something.” 

Alba came through with a clutch base hit RBI for the Wildcatz in a 16-15 win in extra innings (9) against the Balers in Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division action.

Alba was rushed by her teammates and stood on the field still in disbelief. She batted 3-for-6 with one run scored and two RBIs, including the most important one at the end.

Meanwhile, fellow senior Mariah Segura also let loose with the bat by ripping three home runs and collecting seven RBIs.

The ’Catz slugger said she kept thinking to herself to make solid contact and the rest would follow.

“As my coach always says, ‘Just be a Clark Kent, solid line drives,’” she said. “But outsides are my favorite. I just took it with me and I knew what I was able to do.”

All three of her home runs came during critical moments when it looked like Watsonville was down for the count.

Watsonville coach Scott Wilson said part of the process they go through in practice is having the players build confidence in what they can achieve in life. 

“Not just in this game of softball, but in life,” he said. “You believe it and practice it, and you stay disciplined to it, you can have a chance at being successful.”

Wilson said the players have bought into the philosophy and it’s what’s keeping them alive for the Central Coast Section postseason.

The Wildcatz (14-7, 4-5) have to win their final three games of the season. They’ll start at league-leading Notre Dame (18-4, 10-0) of Salinas on Friday at 4:30pm.  

Watsonville will then host its final home game against Gilroy High (11-8-1, 4-4-1) on May 10, followed by the regular-season finale at Christopher High (4-16, 1-9) on May 12. Both games are scheduled for 4:30pm.

Wilson said from their standpoint he believes their chance at the playoffs is an at-large berth.

“It’s definitely going to come down to the wire but I think our overall record and the classifications that we played against, we might have a chance,” he said. 

The Haybalers beat the Wildcatz, 7-2, in the teams’ first meeting on March 31.  

On Wednesday, San Benito was without starting pitcher Sophia Mariottini and Sonoma State commit Giana Perez. Both players were contributing factors in the first game.

“Last time it was a little tough,” Alba said. “We did kind of have an advantage because their pitcher was out with a concussion. Hopefully, she gets cleared. But a (win) is a dub.”

The Balers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Watsonville’s Rylee Gomez responded with a two-run home run.

Segura’s first homer was a solo shot over the right-field wall in the second inning. Fellow senior teammate Marissa Martinez followed up with a two-run blast in the third, cutting San Benito’s lead to 8-6. 

The ’Catz took their first lead of the game, 9-8, on Segura’s second home run of the game—a three-run dinger that landed on Riverside Drive.

Seryna Esparza notched the score at 9-all in the seventh with an RBI single. She was on base as the go-ahead run for the Balers but they couldn’t capitalize on the momentum. 

After the teams exchanged runs in the eighth, the madness continued in the ninth frame.

Dominique Oliveira hit a crushing two-run RBI single that gave the Balers back the lead at 15-11.

But Segura threw on her cape and hit her third homer of the game, a three-run blast that cut San Benito’s lead to 15-14. Moments later, freshman Ashley Jimenez drove in Julia Maldonado to tie the game and Cameron Llamas scored the game-winning run on Alba’s line drive to right field.

Wilson said he hates thinking they’d have to score 16 runs to win a game, or 15 runs to lose it. He also pointed out they had a lot of mistakes on defense and both teams walked numerous batters.

“Whenever you do stuff like that it’s a formula for opportunity, offensively, at least,” he said.

Still, he continues to preach that there’s always a chance if the players are committed to competing and achieving.

“That’s what they did,” Wilson said. “We were down, then we’d come back.”

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