CYPRESS — As bitter as the ending was, the Glendale Community College softball team couldn't help but see its season as sweet.
This year marked the first time the Vaqueros had ever reached the California Community College Athletic Assn.'s Southern California Super Regionals and Glendale nearly took it a step farther, as it came nine outs short from advancing to the Super Regional championship round before it was eliminated by Mt. San Antonio College, 3-2, in its second game Saturday.
"I am very proud, they did a great job," Glendale Coach Dave "Hawk" Wilder said of his team, which finished the season with a 30-15 record after it defeated Bakersfield College, 4-3, in Saturday's opener. "By far, they are the best team we've ever had.
Brandy Morin kept Glendale in contention against the Mounties, who batted two for 11 with runners in scoring position to strand six. GCC and Mt. SAC played through three-and-a-half scoreless innings before they began to trade blows in the final four innings.
"She's as good as anybody out here pitching," Wilder said of Morin, who gave up seven hits, five walks and struck out three against Mt. SAC (36-9). "She's the best lefty I've seen out here. She's just gutsy."
Mt. SAC broke through first in the bottom of the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly from Lauren Moreno that scored Devin Vanderhoff, who drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a single.
A deficit inspired Glendale, as it responded with two runs in the top of the fifth.
Nancy Pinedo singled aboard with one out in the frame for GCC, which quickly put runners at the corners with one out after Morin reached on a throwing error.
Pinedo (two for four) got Glendale on the board when she scored on a wild pitch. Carly Zabka then drove in Morin with a double in the right-center field gap to give GCC a 2-1 lead.
It was the only run-scoring hit the Vaqueros got with runners in scoring position all day, as they batted one for nine and stranded five runners in scoring position against the Mounties.
"Our hitting came through when we needed to a lot of times today, but not all the way," said Zabka, who was two for three in the game. "A lot of bats woke up today so that was definitely good, and we played our hearts out."
Mt. SAC mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth, as Vanderhoff lined a single to center field that scored Maurichelle Torres, who singled and stole second.
An inning later, Morin saw one of her free passes come back to haunt her when she walked Jodi Ellis with one out and saw her come home when Kimberly Pena laced a double to the left-center gap.
"It's just a hit, one mistake — it's late in the game and anything can happen," Wilder said. "We held them through the whole game, but someone got a hit and that's going to happen in a close game."
Glendale earned the right to play Mt. SAC, which fell to Cypress College, 5-2, in its opener Saturday, after it eliminated Bakersfield College (29-14).
That game also went down to the wire, as all the action came in the first and final innings.
GCC scored all four of its runs in the first inning on four hits and two errors, highlighted by a Jenna Kaser RBI groundout and RBI double from Adrienne Lozano.
The Renegade Knights scored once in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly, and mounted a late rally in the bottom of the seventh.
Julie Estep cut Bakersfield's deficit to two, 4-2, when she singled home Kaitlin Toerner, who reached second on an error. Estep came around to score on a single and the Renegade Knights kept the pressure on as a walk put runners at first and second with two outs, but Morin induced a groundout to third base to end the danger and seal the win.
"It was pretty exciting and we all wanted to win," Morin said. "We pushed as far as we could, it's too bad it ended here."