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Valencia softball left stranded

Vikings twice leaves winning run on third base

Posted: May 14, 2013 10:15 p.m.
Updated: May 14, 2013 10:15 p.m.

Valencia's Kristina Brackpool hits a two-RBI double in the sixth inning against Santa Margarita on Tuesday at Valencia. Photo by Dan Watson.

 

The Valencia Vikings softball team certainly had its chances to advance to the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I postseason.

But twice in the final three innings, the Vikings failed to bring the winning run home from third, and a four-run top of the ninth by visiting Santa Margarita in their wild-card matchup was too much to overcome in an 8-4 Vikings’ loss.

“I felt like one team would get the big hit or a call would go in their direction,” said Valencia senior Kristina Brackpool. “Obviously I hoped it would be us. Every game we have runners in scoring position, but we don’t always capitalize ... but that’s softball.”

The loss ends a surprising season for the Vikings (16-14 overall), who have just two seniors on a roster loaded with inexperience.

“We exceeded expectations tying for second (in the Foothill League standings),” said Valencia head coach Donna Lee. “I knew we had a lot of inexperience, but we were battle tested. That experience will make us stronger next season.”

Valencia fell into the wild-card game after losing a coin toss Friday with Saugus, who tied for second with the Vikings. As a result, the Vikings entered as the Foothill League’s No. 3 seed.

As promising as next season may look, though, they’ll be without starting pitcher Sydney Mundell and Brackpool, a power-hitting Penn State University commit.

On Tuesday, Brackpool was her usual self, starting a rally in the sixth-inning with a two-RBI double to pull Valencia within 4-3.

She would come around to score on an RBI groundout by Dominique Salgado to tie the score.

Salgado twice tied things up Tuesday, picking up an RBI single in the fourth to tie the score at 1-1.

Oddly, the game began as an almost mirror image of itself.

Both starting pitchers, Mundell for Valencia and Danielle Palmquist of Santa Margarita (15-12), carried no hitters into the fourth inning, when both teams scratched across a run on two hits.

Mundell finished the game allowing nine hits and eight runs in nine innings. Palmquist gave up four runs on six hits in nine innings.

After both teams went 1-2-3 in the fifth, the Eagles put up three in the fifth before Valencia matched that feat in the bottom half.

But errors dug the Vikings into a hole, as Valencia committed four in the game, including two in the final inning to help the Eagles pad the lead.

“Sometimes it was being careless (in the field), but we were a little too aggressive,” Brackpool said.

Valencia had two opportunities to end the game before it got to that point, starting in the bottom of the seventh.

Maddie Bishop led off the inning with an infield single before moving to third on consecutive groundouts.

Kyra Naftel walked to put runners on the corners, but Palmquist got Wendy Cardinali to ground out to end the threat.

In the eighth, Brackpool led off with a walk and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and groundout.

But Heather Blake struck out to end the last real threat of Valencia’s season.

“Very confident (in Palmquist),” said Santa Margarita head coach John Fitzpatrick. “She’s our senior leader. I expect that from her, but more importantly, she expects that from herself.”

To Lee, though, the game more so came down to missed opportunities for the Vikings.

“We could have won it (in the seventh and eighth),” she said. “Just not making the big plays — we didn’t do that today. (Santa Margarita) is just an average team that got it done today when we did not.”

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