SELMA - The defending Central Section Division III champions couldn’t have started its playoff run any better.
The No. 3 seed Selma Bears brushed off a 2-0 deficit with 13 hits and a complete game from Alyssa Grijalva enroute to an 11-2 win over No. 14 Nipomo in a first round game at Duran Diamond on May 7.
Two days later, the Bears defeated 6-seeded Lemoore (12-10-1, 6-4 WYL) 6-4 at home to advance to the semifinals.
In the first round against Nipomo on May 7, Selma (18-9, 6-6 CSL) outhit the Titans (12-9, 7-3 OL) 13-3 and five Bears had multi-hit performances.
Genesis Rodriguez, Clarissa Moreno, Chrissy Wallace, and Jadyn Hurtado each had two hits, while Hannah Garcia went 3-for-3 at the plate.
“The team executed really well,” Rodriguez said. “We played with each other for each other. We remain focused throughout every single pitch and we came out to play.”
Rodriguez had an all-around solid day with the bat and glove. As a batter, Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with four RBIs, a double, and a pair of runs. On the defensive side, Rodriguez was a part of two double plays in the third and fourth innings. The second baseman caught line drives and threw out a runner on both plays.
On the first double play, Rodriguez caught a line drive from Nipomo’s Ahlijah Kealin and the senior threw to Moreno to get the out at second. During the other double play, Rodriguez caught a line drive from Mikayla Mendez and threw out a runner at first.
“Whenever I’m playing, I always think about the play ahead,” Rodriguez said. “If I get the ball, where I’m I going to go next? It so happen to come to me.”
From the third through sixth inning, Selma’s defense ended four-straight frames with a double play.
Grijalva, who made her first career playoff start, appreciated the double plays made by her defense, especially the ones Rodriguez was involved in.
“It was really good that she just came out of nowhere and get a ball and make a double play,” Grijalva said.
Grijalva allowed three runs on two hits and two walks in seven innings. The junior only had one strikeout.
Rodriguez was one of two Bears to drive in multiple runs. Moreno was the other Selma batter to have multi-RBI day after driving in four runs during a 2-for-3 afternoon.
In the first inning, Nipomo gained a 2-0 lead after opposing pitcher Key-annah Pu’a knocked a two-run homer out of Duran Diamond. The Bears tied the score in the second with a solo home run from catcher Genna Martinez and Hurtado knocking in Garcia on a RBI single.
Selma added four runs in the fourth inning and scored five more times in the fifth.
The Bears inched closer to the Division III championship game after defeating No. 6 Lemoore High 6-4 in the quarterfinals on May 9 at Duran Diamond.
After Lemoore took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, the seed Bears scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 4-1 lead. They would hold off a later Lemoore rally to earn the win.
Grijalva picked up the win for the Bears. Hurtado ended the game 3-for-3 with a double, while Rodriguez was 2-for-2. The Bears advanced to the semifinals of the Division III playoffs. Dom Trevino, Moreno and Rodriguez each had one RBI.
Selma last played on the road against No. 2 Templeton (15-5, 7-5 ML) in the semifinals on Tuesday (after press time).
With a victory over Templeton, the Bears would play in the Division III Championship game at Margie Wright Diamond at Fresno State.
“I thought we played well defensively and made the routine plays and that is what the game is all about,” Tapia said. “Offensively we struggled against a slower pitcher and we struggled with that. Templeton has a really good pitcher and we hit better off a good pitcher and so I think that will benefit us.”
In the past seasons, Selma has won the Division III and IV championships and are looking to keep the success going.
“From the beginning we said that we are the champions until we are not. Our expectations are that we are going to go out there and defend our championship,” Tapia said. “There was no time to re-build, it was just time to continue our success.”
The Central Section championship games will be played at Fresno State’s Margie Wright Diamond on Friday and Saturday. The Division III game is scheduled to start at 12 p.m on Saturday.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Selma was aiming to make it’s fourth-straight appearance at Margie Wright Diamond. The Bears had come out on top at the Fresno State venue in the past two appearances. Last season, Selma won back-to-back Valley titles after defeating Dinuba 12-6 in the Division III game. In 2017, the Bears defeated Mission Oak 2-0 in the Division IV championship game.