Despite being the defending Monterey Bay League and Central Coast Section Division I champions, the San Benito High softball team was searching for a signature win this season. The Haybalers entered Tuesday’s Gabilan Division showdown against Watsonville having not played their best or a level they’re accustomed to.
That’s why the Balers’ 5-4 win over Watsonville could serve as a harbinger for their championship repeat aspirations. San Benito showed a resolve that was perhaps lacking earlier in the season, putting everything together in a nail-biting contest. Amber Rodriguez’s two-run single with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning accounted for the game-winning runs.
Before the start of the bottom of the seventh, Barragan huddled with the players and told them, ‘We have them right where we want them. If we can get to Dominique (Monteon), we’re going to win this game.’ And that’s exactly what the Balers did. It was a critical victory for San Benito, which improved to 7-3 overall and 4-0 in league play.
Watsonville dropped to 4-1 in Gabilan Division action. Barragan knew the team was starting to find its rhythm in the last couple of weeks, and it took a gritty effort against a game Watsonville squad to confirm his statement.
“Right now they (the players) believe in themselves,” he said. “The important part is I’ve always believed in them since Day One of the season. But now they know they can compete with anybody in CCS. I’m proud of these girls because they believe in me. In the huddle, we talked about passing the torch to the next person. Last year during our championship run we talked about passing the torch.”
After scoring single runs in each of the first three innings, the Balers had a 3-1 lead after three innings. However, Watsonville answered with a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth for a 4-3 advantage. Pinch hitter Ashley Sparrer led off the bottom of the seventh and was hit by a pitch.
Alyssa Ito was inserted as a pinch runner and advanced to second base on Noel Chavarria’s sacrifice bunt. After Brittnee Rossi walked and Monteon was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Rodriguez roped a line-drive single to clinch the outcome. Rylee Roberson and Monteon had two hits each, and Rossi scored twice.
Ayla Gabel had a RBI double in the second, and Amanda Moisa pitched a complete game, scattering six hits and allowing three earned runs. Rodriguez also had a run-scoring double in the first inning. San Benito’s outfield trio of Rossi, Roberson and Chavarria made tremendous catches throughout the contest, none bigger than when Rossi picked up a line drive on one hop and threw out a Watsonville runner trying to advance to second base on the play with one out in the fifth inning.