By Ray Hamill — Friday was a night to remember for the H-DNL, which clinched three section championships, including two record-setting performances.
And two of the three winning teams did it with a clutch late home run.
In softball, the Hoopa and McKinleyville girls defended the North Coast Section championships they each won in 2019, which was the last time the NCS held playoffs in baseball and softball.
McKinleyville’s Trinity Preston hit a fifth-inning home run to break a late tie against Fort Bragg, and that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win for the Panthers in the Division-4 championship.
It capped a clutch eight days for the Mack girls, who won each of their three playoff games by just one run.
The Hoopa girls also broke a late tie when senior Savannah Colegrove hit a two-run blast in the bottom of the fifth inning in a 3-1 win over St. Helena.
The NCS title is the seventh all-time for the Hoopa girls, which is more than any other H-DNL softball program and a remarkable achievement for a school that boasts a huge tradition in the sport.
They weren’t the only H-DNL record breakers on a packed night of championship action here on the North Coast, with four NCS deciders played in Humboldt County.
As expected, the St. Bernard’s boys won the Division-6 baseball championship, which was their 14th all-time.
That’s the most by any school in the entire NCS, which also is a remarkable achievement for the Little 4 school.
And the Crusaders achieved it with more outstanding pitching, with seniors Nick Dugan and Aidan Dorsch combining for a no-hitter.
The Eureka girls also played for a championship on Friday, barely falling 1-0 to San Rafael at Washington Elementary school in the Division-3 softball final, which was just the second loss all season for the Loggers.
The three champions will all advance to next week’s NorCal Region tournaments, with the brackets set to be released on Sunday.