On a day that began by going to a CIF NorCal regional baseball final, it ended with another dramatic win as Willow Glen of San Jose walked off a 6-5 victory in the CIF NorCal D2 softball championship.
TO SEE OUR WRITEUP OF THE CIF NORCAL D1 BASEBALL FINAL ALSO SEEN ON SATURDAY, CLICK HERE.
It wasn’t possible to attend both the CIF NorCal D1 baseball and softball finals on Saturday given the distance and starting times between the campus of Valley Christian in San Jose and Hollister to the south. But it was possible to try to hit the NorCal D2 softball championship at Willow Glen of San Jose after the baseball game.
It was mission accomplished. The length of the D1 baseball game (which was won by De La Salle of Concord 11-8) that began at 1 p.m. and the softball game (it started at 4 p.m.) meant seeing both games from beginning to end did not happen, but it was still very much a close game at Willow Glen against Notre Dame of Salinas at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning upon arrival.
Th host Rams were in the midst of rally that saw them score three times for a 5-2 lead in that fourth inning, but it didn’t last long. Notre Dame has one of the most feared batters in Northern California in junior Addison Amaral (committed to Notre Dame University), who smashed a home run in the top of the fifth. The Spirits then punched across two more runs on an two-run single by Maddie Albert-Day to tie the score at 5-5.
Both teams had chances to score in the sixth, then in the seventh the Spirits used walks and a fielder’s choice to get a runner to third base with one out. Willow Glen freshman pitcher Alanna Clincy, however, then struck out one batter and got a pop up to end the threat. In the bottom of the seventh, with one out the Rams struck with a single by Katelynn Dilbeck, who was quickly followed by McKenna Campbell hitting a fly ball deep and toward the left field line. A pinch runner raced around from first and scored the winning run.
Campbell has been one of Willow Glen’s leading hitters all season, along with fellow senior Faamaai Ulu.
It also was a breakthrough win for the Rams. They finished 23-7 with some early losses sprinkled around some significant wins, especially one that came when Archbishop Mitty of San Jose was unbeaten early on. Head coach Don Spignola also challenged the team with a matchup against nationally ranked St. Francis of Mountain View, which was a 3-0 loss.
“Yes, it did,” said Spignola when asked if that win over Mitty provided a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. “This was another good team we just played. We threw Crawford (Lea) and Clincy all season and they kept us in every game. It was just different people coming through in the clutch in different games.”
To reach the NorCal D2 final, Willow Glen earned wins over Casa Grande of Petaluma and CIF Central Section D1 runner-up Bullard of Fresno. Notre Dame had gotten past an East Nicolaus of Nicolaus team in the semis that was 29-1-1 and has one of the state’s top softball traditions with the second best record in the state during the decade of the 2000s and a state record for most consecutive section titles that was set at nine in between 1998 and 2006.
With some younger players like Dilbeck, Crawford and Clincy, Willow Glen softball may be starting something even more special in the coming seasons.