SOFTBALL: Mustangs’ playoff run ends in 5-0 loss to top-ranked Monarchs

Casey Lester

The Gilroy High softball team didn’t frown when it received its No. 12 seed into the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.

Instead, the Mustangs gladly welcomed the underdog role, adapting nicely and skipping past No. 6 Sobrato and No. 4 Los Altos in the first two rounds, respectively, to set up what could be considered a true David versus Goliath.

The Mustangs took on No. 1-seeded Archbishop Mitty on Thursday night at PAL Stadium in San Jose with a berth into the finals up for grabs. However, the giant wasn’t meant to be toppled, as the Monarchs stormed past GHS 5-0 and eliminated the Mustangs in the semifinals.

Mitty (24-2) faces No. 7 Leigh (18-9) in the championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday in San Jose.

“The girls played hard today. They never stopped fighting,” GHS manager Julie Berggren said. “It just didn’t happen for us today. We weren’t supposed to be here. We were the underdogs in these playoffs. Everyone stepped up.”

Mitty’s senior ace Vanessa Alvarez, who yielded a mere three hits in the teams’ previous connection April 25 (a 4-0 Monarchs’ win), and Gilroy’s freshman standout Lauren Castro took the circle for their teams Thursday night in what was billed a pitcher’s duel from the get go.

Casey Lester, after an eight-pitch at-bat, led off the game with a single, however, Alvarez buckled down and struck out the side in 10 pitches.

Alvarez, with an at-times untouchable fastball, recorded 10 strikeouts in all, including seven through the game’s first 10 batters, to lift her season total to 197. After Lester’s lead-off single, the Mustangs had only three other base runners and one other hit (Castro) in the game.

“We just didn’t get the hits,” Berggren said.

Mitty shortstop Jazmyn Jackson deposited a Castro offering over the center field wall for a two-out solo home run to propel the Monarchs to an early 1-0 lead after one inning.

The Monarchs put together another two-out rally in the second, using a hit, walk and error to load the bases. Castro, though, induced a ground out to keep the Mustangs out of serious trouble. Castro (8 hits, 5 runs, 3 Ks) appeared to find her groove in the third, setting the Monarchs down in order.

“At the beginning I was just hitting my spots,” Castro said.

But the Mustangs did not escape damage in the fourth. The Monarchs piled on four runs on five singles to stake out to a commanding 5-0 advantage. Chiara Biagini, Jackson and Alvarez (2) had the RBIs.

“There was nothing different (in the fourth inning.) They just hit the ball where (the defense) wasn’t,” Castro added. “My defense played great behind me. We will try again next year.”

The five-run cushion proved plenty for Alvarez down the stretch.

“This is the second time we played them. Unfortunately, the results are the same,” Berggren said.

NOTE: Thursday night’s game marked the fifth straight CCS semifinal appearance for the Mustangs, who finish the season 14-14.

Sports editor Josh Weaver and staff writer Connor Ramey contributed to this report

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