WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville High softball team is going back to the Central Coast Section championship thanks to a late heroic performance by Yaviana Prado and the rest of the ’Catz crew.
The junior outfielder hit a two-out, walk-off grand slam that capped a six-run inning to stun No. 5 Los Gatos, 9-6, in Wednesday afternoon’s Division I semifinal.
As she circled third base, her teammates were waiting for her at home plate and knocked her down in a celebratory dogpile.
“It was a great win, good effort from everyone,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Watsonville coach Scott Wilson threw his arms up in the air as soon as the ball was hit.
“I heard the contact, saw the trajectory and I knew it was out,” he said. “I was probably already jumping up before it even got halfway out.”
The Wildcatz are a win away from bringing home a CCS title, which would be their first since winning it all in 2017. They will host No. 3 Westmont High (19-5) in the championship today at 4pm.
The Wildcatz reached the CCS title game after winning back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Wildcatz went down in the third inning after Alanna Panu hit a three-run homer. With its back already against the wall, Los Gatos scored a pair of unearned runs in the top of the seventh to take a 6-3 lead.
Freshman pitcher Lynsey Chiala came in to close it out for Los Gatos.
“(The coaches) made sure we were ‘Clark Kent’ and not ‘Superman,’ because we needed to keep it simple, get on base and do the small things before we went big,” Prado said. “We weren’t swinging for the fences, we just needed to get on base.”
Marissa Martinez led off the inning for Watsonville with a single to right, followed by a base hit to left by Anastacia Alba.
Maya Guerrero drew a walk to load the bases and freshman Julia Maldonado drew a walk on a full count that brought in a run, pulling the Catz closer, 6-4.
With two outs, Maliyah Sandin hit a ground ball to Los Gatos shortstop Morgan Burt, but the ball popped out of her glove, bringing in another run and loading the bases for Prado.
“It was nerve-wracking. I remember it was bases loaded and two out. I just wanted to get contact,” Prado said. “My previous at-bats weren’t the best. So, I was just like ‘put it in play, let the defense work.’ And once I hit it, I saw it go far. I didn’t think it would go over, but once it did, it was crazy. I was excited and I’m still very excited.”
Junior Rylee Gomez was behind the dugout area with her glove on top of her head, just hoping for some type of miracle to happen.
“I was really stressed but I knew we were going to pull through,” she said. “We always pull through at the end. I have a lot of confidence in my team.”
Wilson said only one team wins their last game of the season and they have one more game to do it.
“Let’s be that team,” he said.