The Monache Marauders were riding an 11 game winning streak when they met with the Orange Cove Titans for the CIF 2022 Southern California State Division IV Softball Championships on Saturday June 4 at MHS. The Marauders were at an overall of 24-7-1 while the Titans were at a solid 28-6.
Orange Cove came back to score three runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull out an 8-6 win.
The stands were packed as both teams came out onto the field. The Marauders had a fast first inning with Morgan Hunter striking out the first Titan with three fast pitches. The bottom of the first showed the Titans were just as raring to go as the Marauders.
Hunter struck out two Titans in the top of the second and Kaylee Lisenberry was there to catch a fly ball with a runner at second to end the inning.
The Titans scored first with three runs in the third inning. The Titans loaded the bases with one out and Hunter got a strikeout but the Titans went on to score three runs.
It was a nail biting bottom to the third inning, with the Marauders unable to secure a run. The fourth inning is where the Marauders really showed their stuff.
First up was Ana Rivas who slammed a pitch into the outfield while she claimed second base for the Marauders. A good start followed up by more good team play. Hunter then took to the batter's box and after two foul balls she'd hammer a pitch right back at the Titans pitcher. The ball unfortunately hit the Titans pitcher hard in the ankle as Hunter took second and Rivas ran home. The Titans pitcher stayed in the game.
Jessica Batres had her turn at bat and escorted Hunter in after a solid hit to left field. Aalyah Mendoza landed a shot into the Titans outfield allowing her to reach second.
Bryton Loflin had her turn at bat and was walked to load the bases once again for the Marauders. Sid Barrios took up her bat for the Marauders hammered a pitch into the outfield letting Hunter run home for another run.
With Orange Cove leading 4-3, the Marauders weren't finished yet. Pricilla Valencia was next up and with what seemed like ease, slammed the ball into the outfield letting Mendoza and Loflin run home raising the score now to 5-4 Monache. Barrios scored on a wild pitch to give Monache a 6-4 lead.
The next three innings were tight but the Titans scored four runs over the final three innings. The game with the Titans claiming the 2022 championship. Both teams hugged and tears were shed as all the emotions of a full year of athletic sportsmanship came to an end. Monache Athletic Director Marc Salazar congratulated both teams and gave them their commemorative plaques, eliciting a roar of cheers from the stands as spectators thanked the teams for their hard work and wonderful play.
“It's been a long and good season. Our team has been great.” Monache coach Dave Koontz said “It's been a long few years rebuilding what we lost during COVID. We were and are a winning program. These kids played as well as we could have ever asked. If you looked at our rankings when the season started no one would have thought we would be here. They fought so hard to make it here, it means the world to them. So this game and being recognized is really just validation for all their hard work.
“I have to give it up to Orange Cove. They're a good team. Everyone worked their butts off for this season, that's for sure. We made just a few mistakes and we knew, when facing a school like OC, that if you give them an in they'll take it. And, I'd be lying if I said we weren't feeling butterflies in our stomachs you know. If they were in mine they sure were in the team's, and it kinda shows with our early game performance. We didn't have the hits we were looking for.”
Koontz then expressed his final thoughts “We couldn't have gotten here without the immense work that our team did, that my coaching team has done, that the parents who continued to show up and support us all.”
Morgan Hunter also talked about her thoughts after the game. “It's been everything to us to have gotten here.” Hunter said after being asked what the road to State Championship game was like. “I know we all played our best, and we have been working really hard this past season. We're going out on an 11 game win streak, while having won Valley Champs. I couldn't ask for more from my team or my coaches. “I'm so glad I could share this experience and all these memories with everyone here.”
Hunter also thanked the coaches. “I just want to say thank you so much to our coaching staff. Everyone has been so great and nice and helpful. I wouldn't be the kind of player I am without them. We couldn't have gone all the way here without all those long hours of training. This is really a whole team effort from our coaches to our players, we've just grown so much.”