Monday, May 18, 2015

Sheldon Makes It To D-I Championship Game

Imagine your softball team down 6-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Now imagine your team ties the game up scoring most of those runs with two outs.

Next, if you can, imagine you head into extra innings and the winning run is on base and it’s up to you to come through with two outs.

For Sheldon’s Sarah Fukishima she didn’t imagine any of this at all on Monday night. In fact, she was right in the middle of all the dramatics that happened for her and her Huskies teammate.

Fukishima had a two-out single to start Sheldon’s comeback in the seventh inning and then stroked a ball to the centerfield fence at the Sacramento Softball Complex scoring Jordan Fines from first base with the winning run in the eighth inning to hand the Huskies a 7-6, 8-inning win over Vacaville.

“Once I was in the batters’ box, I felt comfortable,” Fukishima described the big at-bat. “That calmed me down, knowing my team was behind me. That made it easier on me. It was incredible. I knew Jordan was going to (score from first base) knowing her speed.”

The game was the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division I semi-final game. So, with the win Sheldon will play Wednesday night for its sixth Section championship in softball and its first banner since 2012.

Vacaville (19-10 overall) is still alive in the double-elimination tournament but must come back through the losers’ bracket, taking on the winner of River City and Woodcreek Tuesday at 7 p.m.

That game’s victor will have to beat Sheldon twice on Wednesday to win the Section championship.

Almost stunned by her team’s come-from-behind win, head coach Mary Jo Truesdale was quite matter-of-fact when reflecting on what her team accomplished against the defending Division I champion and their ace pitcher, Katie Kibby.

“It was a great battle, it really was,” Truesdale remarked. “This team is a real family. They are not ever going to give up.”

Truesdale said her girls did very well batting Monday against the pitcher who shut down virtually all opponents last year in the Section playoffs.

“We kept our hands up and laid off her ‘up’ pitch,” she said. “We just waited for a good pitch.”

Sheldon could barely muster any offense through the game’s first five innings against Kibby. But, Jessica Scott led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run to narrow Vacaville’s lead at the time to 3-2.

The Bulldogs appeared to add insurance runs in the top of the sixth with a pair of bunts, a two RBI single by Alyse Rojas off Sheldon pitcher Gabby Montaie and then a single by Brianna Dick.

It was 6-2, Vacaville, heading to the Sheldon half of the seventh, but Truesdale said neither she nor her players quit.

“Most runs are scored with two outs, “ she grinned.

Maci Fines led off the frame with a line drive home run to center. After sister Jordan lined into a double play two batters later, it appeared as though it would be Sheldon heading into the losers’ bracket.

But not this night.

Fukishima singled, Sarah Brown’s ground ball was bobbled by the shortstop and Scott walked to load the bases.

Vanessa Porto lined a single to left to score Fukishima and Brown to make it 6-5, Vacaville. Then a liner by Shea Moreno went off the glove of the shortstop and into short centerfield, Scott scored and the game went into extra innings tied at six apiece.

After Montaie got the side out in the top of the eighth, Sheldon first two batters flied out to left field. Jordan Fines singled to left field and was on first base when Fukishima nailed the ball to the centerfield fence.

“I kept my eye on it,” Fukishima said of the pitch Kibby threw her. “I felt like it was the right pitch. When I saw it, I took a hack at it.”

The win moved Sheldon’s overall mark to 21-7.

“Any time we take the field, I think we have a chance with this group,” Truesdale said. “They just have a lot of heart and tonight especially I felt like we’d do it.”

In attendance was former Huskies' third baseman Danielle Henderson. She wrapped up her college career last week at Cal-Berkeley and in a few days will leave for Dallas to play in the Professional FastPitch League for the Dallas Charge.

Older sister, Jolene, will also play for the Charge this summer.

Jolene was an All-American pitcher at Cal and has played in recent months in Japan.

Danielle, likewise, had an outstanding career at Cal as a third baseman.

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