Amy Simpson stood there, her heart pumping a little more than usual, and waited. And waited. And waited.
And when the ball landed in her glove, the Fullerton left fielder knew exactly what she was going to do.
There was only one thing to do.
Of all the strikes thrown in Fullerton’s 4-1, 10-inning victory over third-seeded La Puente Bishop Amat in the Southern Section Division II championship game, the most important was Simpson’s. She threw a one-hopper to catcher Kiki McAulay, nailing Natalie Kirkbride at home.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was there in plenty of time.
Kirkbride was trying to score what would have been the winning run, in the bottom of the sixth inning on Gina Luna’s one-out fly to left field.
It was a chance Kirkbride had to take.
“I knew if I didn’t make the play, the game would be over,” Simpson said. “It was as good a throw as I’ve made all year.”
McAulay wasn’t so sure. She said the ball short-hopped her.
“In practice, I’ve never caught any like that,” McAulay said. “I hate throws like that.
“I had so much adrenaline, I wanted to get her out so bad. I knew that if we went extra innings, we would win because we’re like the Queens of Extra Innings.”
Fullerton (19-13) won its first two playoff games in extra innings, defeating Savanna in nine, 1-0, and fourth-seeded Lakewood, 2-0, in 12 innings.
Against Lakewood, Simpson also threw out a runner at home late in the game to protect a tie.
Saturday’s play came during a stretch when Fullerton pitcher Angie Fancuberta was struggling, and it allowed Fullerton to remain in contention for the championship.
Kirkbride had singled to left field and reached third on Raquel Alvarez’s single to right. Needing a run against Fancuberta, who had surrendered two of the three hits allowed to that point in the sixth inning, there was never any question Kirkbride would try to score.
Simpson had a big night. She also scored the winning run in the 10th. She was safe on an error by first baseman Kristina Chavez, took second on a hit batsman, third on a sacrifice. After McAulay was walked intentionally, Simpson scored when Alissa Sorrell was walked with the bases loaded.
“The defensive play was more exciting to me,” she said. “If I don’t make that, the game’s over.”