Balers look strong to start playoffs

The San Benito High softball team opened the CCS playoffs Wednesday with a 14-4, mercy-rule win over Homestead. Photo by Robert Eliason.

The San Benito High softball team didn’t have an impressive regular-season by any stretch of the imagination, finishing a pedestrian 7-5 in the Pacific Coast League’s Gabilan Division. However, the Haybalers pounded Gilroy 9-1 in the regular-season finale a week ago, and coach Andrew Barragan was hoping that game would provide a springboard into a Central Coast Section playoff title run.

So far, so good. San Benito rolled to a 14-4 mercy-rule victory over Homestead on Wednesday in a Division I playoff opener at Vets Park. The No. 5 seed Balers (17-10) play at No. 4 Los Gatos (20-6) on Saturday at 10 a.m. in a quarterfinal matchup. Barragan said yesterday’s win was just what the doctor ordered for a Balers team looking to put it all together.

“We needed this; it was a good confidence booster,” he said. “We struggled down the stretch, and even though we beat Gilroy 9-1, I was a little concerned how we were going to back up that game. We didn’t miss a beat.”

Just ask Homestead, which tied for third place in the Santa Clara Valley’s De Anza Division. San Benito essentially put this one away early, scoring four runs in the first inning. Gia Felice hit a leadoff double before Drew Barragan followed with a home run to left-center field off a 3-2 count. A couple of batters later, Julia Woeste drove in a run with a sacrifice-fly before Ariel Mendez finished the mini uprising with a run-scoring single.

The Balers continued to pour it on in the second inning, as Dominique Monteon hit a two-run single to make it 6-0. San Benito eventually ended the game in the sixth by going up 10 runs to invoke the mercy rule. San Benito racked up 17 hits and 14 RBIs, with the team’s top four hitters in the lineup—Felice, Barragan, Amber Rodriguez and Monteon—combining for 11 hits.

“Any time your first four hitters in the order get 11 hits, it’s a pretty good sign,” Barragan said.

Monteon and Drew Barragan contributed the most to the team’s offensive assault, as they combined for six hits and nine RBIs. Felice also went 3-for-4, while Alyssa Ito and Mendez had two hits each. Barragan pitched 4 1/3 innings and Woeste pitched 1 1/3 innings in the circle.

“It was a good showing today,” Andrew Barragan said. “We were aggressive on the bases, and we were ready.”

The Balers get a Los Gatos team that finished second in the SCVAL’s De Anza Division with a 10-2 mark. San Benito and Los Gatos haven’t played each other this season, but they have plenty of common opponents, with similar results. On the surface, Saturday’s quarterfinal looks to be a matchup between two evenly matched squads.

“I don’t know much about Los Gatos, but I do know they won 20 games,” Barragan said. “And any time you win 20 games in a season (playing in an A league), you’re pretty strong.”

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