HUNTINGTON BEACH — Mike McLaughlan pretty much expected a pitchers' duel Thursday when his Ocean View Seahawks hosted Dos Pueblos in a quarterfinal-round game of the CIF Southern Section Division IV softball playoffs.
Both the Seahawks' Brittany Hitchcock and the Chargers' Hannah Harris did their part to fulfill McLaughlan's prediction, each working 11 innings in a game where both teams had their chances to win early. It was Dos Pueblos, however, that scored the game's lone run in the top of the 11th, to come away with a 1-0 victory.
"It was a game that had two great pitchers and both did an excellent job," McLaughlan said. "I can't say enough about Brittany. She was terrific all season and she'll be back. She's just a sophomore and she has two more great years here ahead of her. And their pitcher (Harris) was tough. She's probably the best we've seen all year."
Harris not only got the pitching win - the right-hander's now 21-9, as is Dos Pueblos, but the junior also starred on offense. A left-handed hitter, Harris had three hits. Her final single was an infield bunt that managed to find a seam along the right-side of the pitcher's mound which the Seahawks couldn't field in time. It followed a one-out single to right field by Chloe Madill and gave the Chargers runners at the corners.
Senior catcher Jordan Roberts then came to the plate and took the first pitch offered by Hitchcock (18-6) for a fly ball into shallow center field. Erica Jason charged hard and appeared to come up with a big catch but the ball bounced off the center of her glove as she approached the infield dirt. The ball dropped to the ground and Madill scored from third on the play to put the Chargers on top, 1-0. On the next pitch, Agnetta Cleland hit a sharp liner back to the mound which Hitchcock nabbed and then threw to first to double off Harris.
Ocean View, which finished second in the Golden West League and had its season end at 20-7, put the tying run on base in the bottom of the 11th when catcher Sarah Craig drew a walk. Vanessa Cardoza then hit into a fielder's choice to the mound and Craig was forced out at second. Hitchcock also hit a grounder to the mound which Harris quickly grabbed and turned into a game-ending double play.
"That was a tough game," Harris, a junior, said. "We knew coming in that they had a great pitcher and we knew it'd be a pitching duel. Our approach was just to make plays on defense.
"I wasn't feeling really 'on' today and I'd been having a rough patch hitting. But, I've come around hitting-wise in CIF."
Ocean View had scoring chances in the first seven innings. The Seahawks had runners at second and third with one out in the bottom of the fourth but Hitchcock struck out and Jason grounded out to first. The Seahawks again stranded two in the fifth, this time, leaving runners at first and second when Toby Salzman grounded out to Harris for the third out.
In the bottom of the ninth, Craig hit a lead-off single to center field and went to second on Hitchcock's sacrifice bunt but was left there. In the 10th, Celine Fuentes dropped a two-out blooper into shallow left field with teammate Emily Long at second. Fuentes' hit went off the glove of a diving Cleland and trickled just beyond the left-field chalk line. Long was held up at third on the play.
"I still wouldn't have sent her," McLaughlan said of Long being held at third, after the game. "I didn't want to see us have the third out at the plate. I liked our chances at that point.
Salzman then sent a grounder that hugged the ground at third base where the Chargers' Marisa Radeke scooped it up and just did throw it in time to get Salzman at first to end the inning.
"We sure had our chances and they did, too," McLaughlan said. "I thought our kids gave it their all on the field. It was just one of those games."
Ocean View was led this year by Craig, Fuentes and Cardoza, all seniors who served as team captains.
"Those three seniors really took over this year," McLaughlan said. "At the start of the season, we really didn't know what we had. But as the season went on, this team grew and really played well. We had a great, great season. I'm just sorry to see it end. We'll be back."
In other CIF softball quarterfinal action Thursday:
Santiago of Corona rode an eighth-inning home run by Brenda Lee to a 4-3 victory over host Marina. The Vikings, who tied for second-place in the Sunset League, finished the year at 21-7-1.
The Sharks, champions of the Big VIII League, advance to Tuesday's semifinals to face El Modena which defeated Valencia of Valencia Thursday.