WATSONVILLE—Prior to her at-bat in the sixth inning, Monte Vista Christian junior Giselle Rocha doesn’t recall much other than blacking out and praying to God for her to at least get one base hit.
But after taking a deep breath, she swung with all her might on a full count pitch and watched the ball soar past the center field wall that helped the Mustangs en route to a 12-7 win over Soledad High in Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress Division action May 4.
“I remember my grandpa saying ‘Vamos Rocha’ and I really took that as if I’m a Rocha, I could do this,” she said. “It just had a lot of meaning to me.”
MVC scored eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning including the 2-run home run that Rocha watched sail.
With the win, the Mustangs finished 13-1 alongside the Aztecs in league play and will share the Cypress Division title. Both teams also have a potential Central Coast Section postseason berth.
“As soon as we started cheering, screaming our lungs out for each other, we were able to get hits and that’s the most important thing,” Rocha said.
It’s a vast contrast from last year’s campaign when MVC finished 4-19 overall and went 1-11 in Cypress Division action.
They had six returners and a group of newcomers who learned how to play the game within the game, and not just watch it, said MVC first-year coach Gerry Vargas.
“That’s the thing that I’ve been kind of preaching all year is just pick away, just keep playing and don’t give up and it’s been paying off,” he said. “They’re a scrappy team and they don’t go away, they’ll come and keep fighting.”
Vargas likes to remind the players there’s always the next inning and their game against Soledad was a prime example. MVC struggled to string together some base hits and then all of a sudden they started to pour in during the sixth frame.
“They’re a good team and this is a big win for us, for the program and for the girls’ confidence,” Vargas said.
MVC lost to Soledad, 18-4, in the teams’ first meeting on March 31.
MVC sophomore infielder Kayla Fullalove-Silveira said they were a lot more motivated and knew they needed to get the job done this time around.
“We felt like we needed to do this ever since we lost to them,” she said. “We had the intention and were like we need to get this done, and it happened.”
Fullalove-Silveira was named the Cal-Hi Sports Northern California Softball Player of the Week after she batted 11-for-17 in five games played during the week of April 24-30. She racked up two home runs, four doubles, one triple, five runs scored and 15 RBIs, helping lead MVC to three wins in Cypress Division play.
She credits MVC hitting coach Steve Hill, who’s been working with Fullalove-Silveira to focus on one pitch and swinging at that one pitch only.
“Not trying to hit the ball over the fence and just trying to hit line drives and making sure I’m calm during my at-bat,” she said. “Focused and not thinking about everything else. Just what I’m doing right there and then.”
Vargas said he’s known all along what the Mustangs were capable of doing. It was a tremendous win against a solid Soledad program, especially because they were neck-and-neck for at least a share of the league title.
“It was huge,” he said. “I’m not surprised, they’re excited and I said we still got a couple more games. Let’s just keep focused and keep grinding.”
Rocha said she also had a sense that this particular group was a special one. She wasn’t available to play during their first meeting against Soledad but she’s seen how much her teammates have grown since losing their lone league game of the season.
“It was like this was kind of just a test of how well we did and we passed the test,” she said. “I’m so proud of everyone.”
The Mustangs have one more test on Friday against San Lorenzo Valley, which is on its way to winning the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League title. The game is scheduled for 4:30pm.
Rocha said it takes her roughly five minutes to relish a victory but then it’s on to the next battle.
“It’s really just one game at a time,” she said. “There’s always room to improve, setting goals to become better than the last game.”