Eagles rally for CIF win
EL CENTRO — The Southwest High softball team made a triumphant return to the CIF-San Diego Section playoffs after defeating El Capitan 4-1 on Thursday afternoon here.
The Eagles picked up the No. 1 seed in the Div. III tourney, marking their first appearance in the playoffs since the 2014 season.
“I just told the girls to be calm, take it like any other game and not let the moment get to big for them,” said Eagle head coach Stephanie Niebla, who retook the helm of the program last season after stepping away after the 2010 season.
In Thursday’s firstround playoff game, the Eagles faced a spunky Vaquero team that came in as the No. 9 seed after upsetting No. 8 Chula Vista in a play-in game on Tuesday.
The Vaqueros got the game rolling quickly as they did earlier in the week, bringing in a run in the top of the first to take an early lead.
The Eagles were not fazed by the early score, however, and worked to tie the game in the bottom of the inning.
Arianna Izaguirre led things off after she opened the Eagles’ offensive debut with a single and moved to second on another base- hit from Sadriena Rodriguez.
Both players moved over on a wild pitch, while Adriana Molina ensured Izaguirre could score from third with a deep sac-fly to right field to tie the game.
The teams remained locked in a 1-1 battle until the fifth inning, when the Vaquero defense suffered a few mishaps, allowing the Eagles to load the bases with two outs for senior first baseman Victoria Cruz.
Cruz nearly popped up on an early pitch, but after the Vaqueros’ catcher couldn’t secure the ball, Cruz’s at-bat continued.
The error proved to be fatal as Cruz then delivered a bases-clearing double that broke the tie and ultimately served as the game-winning hit.
“Victoria is such a dangerous hitter that you just know she’s going to do something like that,” Niebla said. “Those first two atbats she went 0-2 and after that foul ball, you could see it in her eyes, she was so mad, and I think she just took it out on the ball.”
Earning the win in the circle for Southwest was junior hurler Rodriguez, who tossed another gem and tallied 11 strikeouts to help push her team to the second round of the playoffs.
The Eagles second-round game is tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, with the opponent to be determined.
Southwest High’s Arianna Izaguirre rounds third base as an El Capitan player holds a throw from home.
Sadriena Rodriguez delivers for the Eagles on Thursday.