Wednesday’s rivalry rematch between the Wilcox Chargers and Santa Clara Bruins was nearly a carbon copy of their first contest.
Only this time the result was flip flopped. Back on April 2, the Bruins had a 3-0 lead going into the final inning and held on for a 3-2 victory. This time around, on May 2, Wilcox took a 3-1 lead into the final inning and survived a late Bruins’ push to win 3-2.
The biggest hits in both games belonged to Wilcox star Deena Pederson. She drove in both runs in the Chargers’ loss in April with a triple. In the May victory it was her two-run homer to right-center field in the bottom of the third inning that proved to be the difference.
“It was a 1-0 count and I was thinking I just needed to be aggressive in that spot since she [Bruins’ pitcher Kathryn Caravalho] had to come in to me in that situation,” recalled Pederson on her home run. “I think it was the first home run I’ve hit where I actually celebrated while I was on the bases because I was really excited.”
“She timed that one perfectly, absolutely clutch,” commented Chargers Head Coach Laura Stott-Hardesty. “She’s only a sophomore and she’s already a great player.”
“It comes natural to her,” chimed Chargers teammate Serena Cadena on Pederson’s crucial blast. “It’s expected at this point.”
Cadena also had a huge day at the plate for Wilcox as she went 2-2 with a walk including two lengthy at bats. She knocked in Pederson from second base with a solid line drive single in the bottom of the first to open the scoring.
“My goal today was just to tire her out,” added Cadena. “I think I did my job.”
The three runs were just enough support for Chargers starting pitcher Alyssa Guerrero, who kept the Bruins to just one run through the first six innings.
“Alyssa, I think, threw one of the best games she’s thrown this year,” remarked coach Stott-Hardesty on her starting pitcher. “A lot of positives from this game for us.”
The win was critical for the Chargers as it secured a likely playoff spot in CCS. Heading into the game with a .500 record and two games remaining, the Chargers needed to win or else their finale against 8-2 Mountain View would have become a must-win game. Likely to finish fourth in the De Anza Division, the Chargers need at least a .500 record in either league play or overall record to have a chance to qualify based on a points system. Losses in both of their final two games would have dropped them below .500 in both cases.
As for the Bruins, there is still work to be done. They could potentially drop out of their current third spot in the division which would guarantee a playoff berth. At 5-4 with three games remaining in league, a lot can happen. However, the Bruins are well over .500 overall and their impressive strength of schedule would almost certainly qualify them for a playoff spot. That said they certainly don’t want to back into a playoff seed.
Against Wilcox, third baseman Sierra Trujeque was by far the top standout for the Bruins. The junior smoked a line-drive double into right-center field to lead of off the third inning. She would later come around to score to tie the game. In the seventh she again crushed a line drive into the gap, this time in left-center field but was held to a single.
“She’s a good pitcher, but she’s a little on the slower side so showing bunt and pulling the bat back helps me keep my weight back,” acknowledged Trujeque, who showed bunt and pulled the bat back on both her hits. “It helps my timing so I can hopefully get a good shot into the gap.”
Santa Clara’s ace pitcher Caravalho wasn’t used to giving up the amount of loud contact, but the senior settled down and shut the door down after Pederson’s home run.
“We had a lot of stuff going on today, multiple girls have birthdays today, with a rivalry game and UC Davis here to watch Kat,” acknowledged Bruins Head Coach John Rahbar. “I was a bit concerned about how we were gonna control the emotions of this one. In my opinion it was the emotions that got the girls out in front and popping everything up or little dribblers. Once we settled in at the end of the game and stayed back we started to hit a little bit better, but we just ran out of time.”