SBVC Earns Split in Epic Finale Against Chaffey

SBVC Earns Split in Epic Finale Against Chaffey

The race to win the Inland Empire Athletic Conference softball title came down to the final day, and San Bernardino Valley and Chaffey did not disappoint the standing room only crowd at Panther Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Like a pair of prize fighters, the Wolverines and Panthers traded blows over the course of nearly four hours in game one of the doubleheader, with Chaffey able to match SBVC run for run through 11 innings. But in the 12th, Chaffey finally landed a knockout punch, as Alayh Rueff singled home Victoria Aghbashian and Cole Carter to give the Panthers an 8-7 victory to clinch the IEAC title.

But SBVC did not leave empty-handed, as the Wolverines rallied back from a four-run deficit in the seventh inning of game two, scoring six times in the inning to beat Chaffey 10-8, putting the Wolverines in position to earn a trip to the postseason for the first time since the 2015 season.

The two teams did match each other run-for-run through the first 11 innings. SBVC broke through in the second, as Kaitlynn LaFleur singled with one out and stole second. She moved to third on a passed ball, then scored on Audi Pettaway's sacrifice fly to center. But in the bottom half of the inning, pitcher Alyssa Fonseca walked in the tying run to make it 1-1.

In the fifth, SBVC briefly took the lead again, as Arianna Gaeta doubled with one out, then came around to score on Monique Davila's two-out single. In the bottom half of the inning, Chaffey loaded the bases with no outs. But Fonseca struck out Marisa Marquez and got Hailey Marquez to foul out to first baseman Cristina Lopez. But Lexi Alaniz-Diaz singled home Carter to tie the game. 

SBVC took a two-run lead in the top of the eighth. Lopez hit a one-out double, then scored thanks to a two-out hit from Aubrey Slider - who advance to second on the throw home. Slider scored thanks to a throwing error that allowed LaFleur to reach. SBVC looked poised to close the game out, as Chaffey had a runner on second with two outs, but back-to-back doubles from Carter and Rueff tied the game. The Panthers nearly got the winner home, but Jaslyn Sanchez threw out Rueff at home to end the inning.

After the teams traded runs again in the 11th, SBVC took the lead again in the 12th, as Pettaway reached on a perfect squeeze bunt to score Slider from third with one out. Gaeta followed with a single, but the two were stranded setting up Chaffey's heroics in the bottom of the inning.

The two teams reset for the second game, and Chaffey rode the momentum from the game one win to score three unearned runs in the first, and another in the second for an early 4-0 lead. SBVC got back into the game with a two-out rally in the fourth. Hannah Guilfoos and Slider had back-to-back singles with two outs, and LaFleur doubled them home to cut the lead in half. Pettaway singled home LaFleur to make it a one-run game. But Chaffey got two of the runs back in the bottom half of the inning (one of them unearned) to take a 6-3 lead, that it would expand to 8-4 heading into the seventh.

Fonseca pinch-hit to lead off, and was hit by a pitch. She moved to third as Davila's sacrifice attempt was thrown away. Tara Walker followed with a double to left-center that scored both runners, and she went to third on a single by Lopez. Guilfoos followed with a single to score Walker. Slider followed with a triple to score Lopez and Guilfoos and give SBVC its first lead of the second game. LaFleur's sacrifice fly scored Slider, giving SBVC it's final margin of victory.

Pitcher Sofia Gonzalez finished the long day earning the win, closing out the regular season with a record of 13-9. In all, she pitched 13 innings on the day, allowing only four earned runs in the two games.