By: Derryl Trujillo
Inland Sports Senior Writer
Hemet (20-6): 3
WP: Long, Kassidy>> CG, 1 Run, 4 Hits, 4 K’s, 3 BB
LP: Cabezas, Rebeca>> CG, 3 Runs 9 Hits, 1 K, 1 BB
Hemet (Larry Minor Field) – Seeing others experience the joy of playing at Deanna Manning Stadium in a CIF-SS softball final is one thing, playing in one yourself is something else. It’s been a bit more than eight years since a Bulldog squad played in one themselves. That drought ended Thursday afternoon as No. 9 Hemet scored three unanswered runs to defeat No. 4 Segerstrom 3-1 and advance to next week’s CIF SS D4 championship game against Rosary Academy (20-11) Friday, June 18, at 3:30 p.m.
Hemet had a bases loaded situation in their half of the first on two singles and a batter reaching via error but couldn’t punch through. Starting pitcher Kassidy Long led off the inning with a single and was thrown out at home attempting to score on Kaya Ciccone Cozart’s single for a second out. Chole Payne reached base on a second Jaguar error of the inning but Abby Lasowski grounded out, ending the threat.
Long said “I knew my defense had my back there late when we put Martinez on intentionally and that they’d come through if a ball was in play. We’ve just been having fun all the way through this run and that’s what we’ll do next week.”
The Bulldogs consistently got good barrel to ball against Jaguars’ starter Rebeca Cabezas, who sported an impressive .165 opponents batting average coming into Thursday’s game. However, they didn’t punch through until the fourth inning as Chloe Payne hit a solo shot to center field that probably landed near a previous home run from the Jaguars’ Isabella Martinez (top 2nd) to tie things at 1.
Hemet took the lead in their half of the 5th by playing a bit of small ball. Long led off the inning with a double to the left field wall and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Brooklyn LaChappa. It was Payton Priefer who got just enough of an up and in pitch to bloop one over the shortstop’s head and score the go ahead run.
Priefer added “I feel like seeing the excitement and fun of other teams playing on that field in Irvine is something to strive for ourselves when we get our opportunity next week. It was amazing to hear our crowd cheering us on down that left field line and behind the backstop because when we started there weren’t very many people allowed to watch us.”
In the 6th the Bulldogs added one more long ball for good measure, this one a no doubter to right field by Lasowski, which put Hemet up 3-1.
That was after Long escaped a two on and one out situation in the Jaguars’ 6th created by two walks (one intentionally issued to Martinez) by getting a flyout and ground out.
Bulldogs coach Jeff Galloway said “We’re going to keep grinding for seven innings so after the first when we came away empty handed that’s what we told them to keep doing. These are blue collar kids who just come to work and don’t let up until that final out. The routine this week will be just like in 2013 (minus not having to deal with graduation). I want them to take it and enjoy it.”
Leading Hitters: Hemet