Lady Seawolves advance to NCAA Championships

The Sonoma State softball team battled it out this past Sunday for the California Collegiate Athletic Association Softball Championship Tournament in Stockton. 

The Lady Seawolves started the tournament Friday with a 14-inning 4-2 win over top seed and third ranked Cal State Monterey Bay. Day two started with a heartbreaking 7-5 loss to Humboldt State from a walk-off home run in extra innings. 

The Lady Seawolves faced the Monterey Bay Otters yet again Saturday evening and pulled out the 9-5 win that took them to Championship Sunday where they faced the Humboldt Lumberjacks. 

Sonoma came out strong with a 6-3 win in the first game, but number two seed and sixth-nationally-ranked Humboldt state came back with a vengeance in the second game with an 8-6 win of their own to take home the championship banner. The Lumberjacks (46-14) earn the conference’s automatic bid and may possibly host one of the two sub-regionals next weekend. 

In Sunday’s first game, Sonoma’s Hayley Condon scored a three-run homer in the third inning that pushed the team into the lead. Two more runs were brought home with a leadoff solo shot by Amanda Rossetta at the top of the fourth inning followed by an RBI single by Keeley Ray to bring Holly Brown across the plate for a 5-0 lead. 

Sonoma pitcher Katy Bihl threw a no-hitter up until the fourth inning when the Lumberjacks came out swinging, but Humboldt finally got something going in the sixth when California Collegiate Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year, Amanda Llerena stepped on to the mound. She allowed three runs to come home on two hits from a bases loaded walk, hit by pitch and a wild pitch. Bihl came back into the game to replace Llerena and started an inning-ending groundout.

Ancia Purdy cushioned Sonoma’s lead in the top of the seventh with a double, then made it home because of a Lumberjack defensive error, giving the Lady Seawolves a 6-3 lead. Bihl shut down Humboldt in the bottom of the seventh sending all three batters back to their dugout forcing the two teams to go into a winner-take-all seventh game. 

The Lumberjacks started final game with a two-run home run by Hannah Williams in the bottom of the second. Williams hit the walk-off home run against Sonoma in the first game on Saturday.

Sonoma swung away at the Lumberjack lead coming back with five runs in the top of the third inning starting with a two-run shot by Megan Konieczka. Rosetta then chipped in her second solo home run of the day to put Sonoma at 3-2.  With bases loaded, Ray hit an RBI infield single to bring home Brown before Purdy shot up a sacrifice fly putting Ashley Long across the plate to take the Sonoma lead to 5-2. 

Humboldt slowly turned it around chipping away at the Lady Seawolf lead with two runs in the bottom of the third, another in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 5-5. But it wasn’t until the fifth inning when Humboldt pulled ahead when three runs came across the plate off of Bihl putting the ‘Jacks ahead 8-5.

The Lady Seawolves tried to come back in the top of the seventh but their one run off of a sacrifice fly by Konieczka wouldn’t be enough to get the victory as Humboldt held on to win the title 8-6. 

Konieczka went 2 for 4 with three RBIs in game two and Rosetta and Ray both chipped in two hits each as well. Bihl (7-6) started and pitched the first four innings but after giving up the go-ahead runs in the fifth was replaced by Melissa Smith. 

Despite not winning the title this weekend, Cordon, Long and Konieczka and Ray were named to the 2014 California Collegiate Athletic Association Softball All-Tournament Team. Sonoma is also expected to qualify for the eight-team National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II West Regional.

This would be the sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance for the Lady Seawolves who have made it the past seven out of eight seasons.