Dangerous ground

Senior third baseman Cherise Martinez tries to tag out the Notre

GHS softball squad falls 1-0 to Notre Dame; CCS status up in the
GILROY – The Gilroy High softball team is getting dangerously close to not qualifying for the CCS Playoffs this season– which would mark the first time in six years that the Lady Mustangs did not reach the postseason.

With Thursday’s 1-0 home loss to first-place Notre Dame – the team’s third consecutive one-run loss in a three-day span – the Lady Mustangs’ overall record stands at 13-13 with their league mark dipping to 5-8. A playoff-bound team must maintain at least a .500 record overall to be considered for CCS.

“This week was incredible,” said head coach Julie Berggren, whose squad lost three games in one week for the second time this season. “We’re definitely a playoff team. We played a very hard schedule this year.”

Gilroy has two games remaining – Tuesday at home against powerhouse North Salinas and Thursday on the road against neighboring rival Live Oak. Both games are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

“We can’t count on (beating the Lady Acorns). Live Oak always plays us tough,” said Berggren, whose Lady Mustangs beat Live Oak twice this season and lost twice to North Salinas. “I just can’t see these seniors sitting down and not going to CCS. It’s definitely not a matter of them not wanting it.”

But the Gilroy bats have been kept quiet this season against the league’s top hurlers – resulting in a handful of one-run losses, including yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Lady Spirits.

“Jenn (Olvera) pitched one of her best games this season. We need to pick it up on offense and back her up and I’m part of our offense so I need to pick it up,” junior catcher Bria DeLorenzo said. “I went 0-for-3 the last few days and that’s not helping.”

The Lady Mustangs managed only one hit off Notre Dame ace Kim Reeder – a third-inning base knock off the bat of rightfielder Jessica Sandoval – and worked no base-on-balls through the seven-inning affair.

“We definitely hit better today than the last time we played them,” said Berggren, noting that her hitters are making contact but not finding the holes.

Olvera tossed a complete-game, five-hitter and gave up no earned runs through seven frames – but, without any offense behind her, took the loss for the third time this week. The only run by Notre Dame crossed the plate on an error. With a runner on second, Reeder sent a shallow fly ball to right field – where Sandoval rushed in to make the catch. The ball hit the heal of her glove and bounced to the grass, allowing the decisive run to score.

“It was great that Jenn could still throw hard today. She pitched three great games this week,” said Berggren of Olvera. “It’s hard to give up an unearned run like that.”

But with only one hit – via Sandoval – and only one runner on base all day, the Lady Mustangs had little chance of tying the game up. In the third inning with Sandoval perched on second base, Olvera struck out swinging to end the only Gilroy threat.

“It just didn’t go our way today,” said DeLorenzo, still having faith that her team will win one of its last two games to qualify for CCS. “This is a better team than last year. We’re just having problems. The league got tougher and we haven’t adjusted.”

Despite the anemic offense, the Lady Mustangs are still playing solid defense. Sophomore shortstop Kayla Aldridge twice fielded tough ground balls with a runner on second base and made the all-important putouts. When Notre Dame went for the double-steal with runners at the corners, the Lady Mustangs made the smart play and nailed the runner coming home.

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