A strong wind had blown in from right field all afternoon at Segerstrom High, but the Ocean View softball team knew it was in a spot of trouble.
An error opened the bottom half of the seventh inning, and Seahawks coach Liberty McCollum is among the many that believe that the team to make the fewest mistakes often wins a close game.
Alexa Fernandez stole second base, putting further pressure on the Seahawks with the winning run in scoring position.
At the plate, Hailey Guillen was simply trying to hit the ball to the right side to move the runner over, but she knew the game was over when the ball left her bat.
Guillen beat the wind, and the Seahawks, with a two-run walk-off home run to left field to give the Jaguars a 5-3 win and a sweep of the two-game series in Golden West League play.
“I felt it. I felt it right off the bat,” Guillen said. “It felt really good. I didn’t even realize it [was my first walk-off hit] until after the game was over. They told me, and I was like, ‘Oh shoot. That was my first walk-off.’”
Segerstrom (12-9, 4-2 in league) surpassed Ocean View (8-10, 4-3) for second place in the league.
“I think it’s big for us because we know we have a big game coming up with Westminster,” Jaguars coach Yvonne Alonzo said. “This week was big for us. It was big for us to capture this one, and we know that [the Seahawks] still have to play the harder teams coming in.
“We’ve already gone through that, so Westminster is another hurdle that we have to get by.”
Viviana Cabezas went three for three with a run-scoring double for the Jaguars. Aidee Mendoza also drove in a run with a double in the first inning.
Rebeca Cabezas picked up the win, striking out five in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Ocean View played the game without its top starting pitcher in Desyree Arizmendi (illness). Prestine Pablo never pitched with the lead, but she kept the Seahawks in the game until they could rally.
In the top of the seventh, Nivea Armenta drew a lead-off walk. Pinch-runner Kira Marx advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Cailey Collado. Then pinch-hitter Alexis Murillo was hit by a pitch on the 10th pitch of her plate appearance.
Down to their last out, Paige Coonis reentered the lineup after being pinch-hit for in the fifth. She grounded a single up the middle to score Marx from second, tying the score at 3-3.
“I was hoping the vibes would keep going on, like when one person hits, it keeps going in a cycle,” Coonis said, adding that the hit was her second of the season. “Sadly, that did not happen today, but I think we put up a good fight overall, and I think we did pretty good today.”
Strong situational hitting led to all of Ocean View’s runs. In the third inning, Ari Hencke doubled to put runners on second and third. Haley Hoskin followed with a ground ball to second base, which scored a run and advanced another to third.
Armenta sent a fly ball to right field, which was deep enough to get Hencke home, but she did not tag up prior to the catch. With two outs in the inning, Collado came through, sending a single through the left side of the infield to score Hencke and tie the score at 2-2.
“It was good softball,” McCollum said. “I can’t really complain. We had one pitcher go today, and she held her own. I’m really proud of her.”
McCollum added that her players have stepped up and supported each other throughout the season.
“This team picks each other up every single day in practice and every single game,” said McCollum, who saw Ava Arce finish with three hits and Collado with two hits. “I’ve never been happier with a good group of girls.
“This is a young team, but I expected the good hitting. I did not expect the camaraderie, but I did expect the hitting.”