The Tracy High softball team came in fired up for Friday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 championship against Whitney High of Rocklin.
The Bulldogs (25-8, 14-1 Tri-City Athletic League) had enough momentum from Thursday’s wins over Folsom and Elk Grove to dominate at the plate in Friday’s win in the first game against the Whitney Wildcats (26-6, 13-2 Sierra Foothill League) in the double-elimination championship. Tracy got the 11-0 win, boosted by two home runs each for sophomore Aaliyah Jenkins and junior Bella Pahulu.
That momentum didn’t last, though. Whitney opened the second game with a flurry of hits and held the lead the entire way to win the championship game 16-6, and claim the SJS Division 1 title.
Tracy coach Paulette Keeney that even though Tracy was denied a second consecutive section title, she couldn’t have been more impressed with the team’s effort.
“These girls played with all of their heart and soul. They left it all on the field,” she said. “They gave up their time, their bodies and their minds for this game, and they went all out and I’m so, so proud of them.”
Tracy 11, Whitney 0
Tracy controlled the first game in Friday’s double-header from start to finish to get the 11-0 win. Faasisila pitched a two-hit shutout and struck out 10 batters, and Tracy’s batters totaled 14 hits.
Tracy took the lead in the second inning with Faasisila’s RBI double, followed by Pahulu’s two-run homer.
“That was my third at-bat against that pitcher. She was pitching to me a lot outside, so I knew it was time for me to make an adjustment and I just wanted to come through for my team,” Pahulu said. “It was just surreal, especially in this kind of setting, hitting two home runs. I wanted to provide for my team and help get us to the next game.”
The Bulldogs went through their batting order in the third inning, totaling eight hits and six runs, including Jenkins’ grand slam over the left field fence with two out.
“I had two outside pitches before that, and then she threw me an inside pitch and I just turned on it,” Jenkins said. She added that she and her teammates wanted to make up for Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to Whitney.
“It means a lot to us, just thinking about having fun because that last game we didn’t have fun when we lost to Whitney. We came into this game with a more positive attitude.”
Everybody on Tracy’s lineup got hits, with a double and two singles for senior Isabel Cargill and two hits each for sophomore Kaela Jones, Pahulu and Jenkins, including back-to-back solo home runs in the seventh for Pahulu and Jenkins.
Whitney 16, Tracy 6
The Wildcats took control of the second game of the SJS Division 1 championship right away, with six hits, including two home runs, to take a 6-0 lead in the first inning. Whitney added another run in the second.
The Bulldogs chipped away at that lead through the next four innings, with Faasisila batting in a run in the bottom of the first. Senior Emily Yanke doubled to deep left-center to start the bottom of the third inning, and junior Giavana Alegre singled to bring Yanke home. Tracy scored two more runs on three hits in the fourth inning, with Jones hitting a sacrifice grounder and Yanke with another hit to drive in a run.
“I knew the second game, Whitney was going to come back strong because they’re a good hitting team,” Yanke said. “We had to hit, so I just made sure to do my job at the plate.”
Tracy had 13 hits for the game, with Yanke getting three of them and senior Marti Rhinehart, Faasisila, Pahulu and Cargill getting two each.
“When we first got to the losers bracket we knew we would have four games and we were going to have to be competitive with it,” Yanke said. “We just had to compete to our highest level and I know our team was able to do it.”
Cargill’s hits included an RBI single in the fifth inning to cut Whitney’s lead to 7-5, the closest the Bulldogs would get in the second game. Whitney scored three runs on three hits in the top of the sixth, and Tracy scored one more when Alegre hit a sacrifice grounder in the bottom of the sixth.
By the seventh inning the effects of four straight games for the Bulldogs started to show. Faasisila had struck out 10 Whitney batters over the first six innings, but gave up two hits and three walks for five runs with no outs in the top of the seventh. She gave up a total of 15 hits in the second game. Jones came in to finish the seventh inning and gave up three hits and one run.