By Ray Hamill — The Little 4 champs gave the Big 5 champs all they could handle on Tuesday evening, as a pair of H-DNL teams faced off in the NorCal Division-IV softball quarterfinals at Washington Elementary School.
Two seniors combined to score the only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading the host Eureka Loggers to a 1-0 win over a resilient Hoopa Warriors team.
Payton Goodman got on base with a two-out double and scored moments later on a McKenna Beach single, as the Loggers’ only two seniors kept their high school careers going.
The victory for Eureka sets up a semifinal showdown at Monterey on Thursday afternoon, while the loss ends a memorable history-making season for the Hoopa girls.
“It’s super exciting,” Eureka head coach Robin Johnson said of reaching the final four in the bracket. “We’re making history.”
The Loggers certainly had to battle all the way in what was their third victory over the Warriors this season, and this one was closer than either of the previous two.
“Hoopa had a great season, and it was definitely a close game today,” Johnson said. “It’s just a bummer we had to play each other (in the NorCals).”
Just a few days after suffering her only loss of the season in the Division-III North Coast Section championship game, Eureka junior Kira Morris got back to winning ways in the circle, barely getting the better of impressive Hoopa senior Savannah Colegrove in an entertaining pitchers’ duel.
Morris, who improved to 24-1, struck out eight in a complete game and kept the Hoopa bats in check for much of the afternoon, while Colegrove struck out 12 to cap an outstanding high school career that saw her win a pair of NCS titles.
Check out the final out and the postgame celebrations below …
“Kira did great. She always does,” Johnson said. “And Savannah did great too. She kept us on our toes. She was really hitting her corners.”
Maeghan Hampton also had a double in the win, while Mariah Napoleon added a bunt single.
In addition to her big day in the circle, Colegrove had an impact at the plate and finished 3-for-3, while teammate Nalani Colegrove was 2-for-3 and Diamond Bibancos was 1-for-3.
“Savannah pitched a hell of a game, and she hit well,” Hoopa head coach Ryan Colegrove said.
An early injury to starting shortstop Tatianna Colegrove didn’t help matters for the Warriors, who had to shuffle their starting lineup.
“The girls stepped up, and some were playing in different positions,” Ryan Colegrove said. “I think it would have been a different game for sure (had Tatianna played).
The Loggers were unable to get much going on offense for much of the game, but made up for it in other ways.
“We had a couple of solid contacts, we just hit the ball right at people,” Johnson said. “But our defense was solid, and that kept us in the game.”
With the win, the Loggers improved to 27-2, while Hoopa closes out 22-6.
On Friday, the Warriors won an H-DNL record seventh NCS title, and they succeeded this spring with a lot of balance in their lineup.
“The girls did great” the head coach said. “And it wasn’t just a couple of them. It was all of them. They just kept improving every game.”