By Ray Hamill — The Hoopa Warriors are showing no signs of letting up in their pursuit of an H-DNL record seventh North Coast Section softball championship.
The Warriors turned in another composed businesslike performance in their Division-5 semifinal on Tuesday, scoring a pair of early runs and holding on for a 3-0 win over Head-Royce at Hoopa.
The win sets up a championship showdown against either Clear Lake or St. Helena this weekend, where a victory would make the Warriors the most successful H-DNL softball team in NCS history.
And as the No. 1 seeds, the Hoopa girls will get to play for the historic championship in front of a home crowd.
“It’s big,” head coach Ryan Colegrove said. “We’re making history right now. This is the first time we get to host (an NCS championship game), and that’s pretty neat. We definitely have the community behind us. People care about the girls and are going out of their way to show their support.”
Hoopa senior Savannah Colegrove dominated in the circle once again on Tuesday, giving up just one hit in the seventh inning and allowing just three Head-Royce runners reach second base all game.
The senior leader has epitomized the Warriors’ businesslike approach in recent weeks, leading the way on a team that has won 11 of 12 games since a disappointing and surprise loss to St. Bernard’s in the Little 4.
She struck out seven and walked just two for the win in the circle, while also finishing 2-for-3 at the plate.
Savannah hit a triple in the first inning to score her sister Tatianna for what would be the winning run, and then scored herself moments later on a Diamond Bibancos sac bunt.
“Savannah pitched really well and she hit really well when we needed it,” her mother and head coach said of the consistent senior. “She always does well for us.”
Savannah is the Warriors’ only remaining player from the NCS championship-winning team in 2019, which was the last time the section held postseason tournaments, and she is looking to close out her high school career with a rare second championship medal.
On Tuesday, she got plenty of help from her defense.
The middle infield — shortstop Tatianna Colegrove and second baseman Nae-Rew Martin — both continued to make crucial plays, as did first baseman Diamond Bibancos.
A fast-improving outfield also made some big plays, most notably centerfielder Bella Valentine and left fielder Nalani Colegrove.
“My infield has always been solid, but my outfielders are finally catching up,” Ryan Colegrove said. “They’re definitely working hard to match the infield defense. Our defense was solid today.”
On the rare occasions the visitors managed to get runners on base, the Hoopa defense didn’t panic and went about its business, getting out of the jam each time.
And because of that, the early two-run lead was all the home team would need.
Jewely Bibancos added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth, singling to reach base before being driven home moments later by teammate Bethany Masten.
Martin finished 1-for-3, while Rianna Bain was 1-for-2.
The Warriors are now 21-5 on the season, while the Head-Royce girls close out their season 13-3.
Hoopa currently has six NCS softball titles all-time, the same number as Ferndale, and no other H-DNL team has more.
The day and time of the championship game has yet to be finalized.