TULARE - The Selma softball team ended two of days of competition by claiming the 2019 Tulare Classic Softball Tournament Large School AA Division championship on April 15.
During the two day tournament, Selma defeated Mission Oak, Orange Cove, Coalinga, and Exeter, in that order, to win the championship.
In the championship game, the Bears used timely hits and solid pitching to defeat the Monarchs 7-4. It was Selma’s second win of the season over Exeter with the first one coming in a 4-3 Central Sequoia League walk-off victory on March 21.
The Bears outscored its tournament opponents 37-14. The tourney championship came a week after losing to CSL opponents Dinuba and Hanford West by a total of three runs. Selma fell to the Emperors 8-7, then, 13-11 in extra innings to the Huskies.
“I feel like we’ve been playing good ball for seven or eight games now,” Bears head coach Chris Tapia said. “Obviously last week didn’t end up our way, but we have positioned ourselves to be in these games when it comes down to the end.”
With three games left in the regular season, Tapia said he expects his team to end the year strong with the Central Section Division III playoffs coming up. As of press time, Selma is the No. 4 ranked team in the division, according to MaxPreps.
“It doesn’t necessarily show in the league standings right now, but absolutely we’re getting hot at the right time,” Tapia said. “We’re playing better defense, we’re hitting the ball all over the place and once our pitchers keep the ball down a little bit more, then we’re in position to be competitive, be very competitive. We’re definitely playing our best ball right now.”
In the first three innings of the championship game, both teams were held scoreless while Selma was hitless during that span. The Monarchs had it’s first two hits in the third inning, but Bears pitcher Emilee Sanchez got help from her defense in holding Exeter scoreless.
Selma shortstop Clarissa Moreno caught a line drive from Corinne Acosta, then the junior threw to her teammate Ashley Paz to tag out Bri Topete at first for a double play. After the Monarchs had a runner at second, Sanchez ended the inning by striking out Katelyn Kirkman.
The Monarchs had a runner in scoring position against Sanchez in the first three innings.
“I definitely didn’t think about the runner,” Sanchez said. “I was focused on the batter and pitching where I needed to pitch.”
Sanchez earned the win after pitching a complete game. The sophomore kept Exeter scoreless through six innings until the Monarchs scored four times in the seventh. Sanchez had five strikeouts in her win.
“I think we did really good as a team together,” Sanchez said. “Our hitting definitely came through.”
In the fourth inning, Selma got on the board with an RBI double from Clarissa Moreno. Her run scoring double came after Dom Trevino and Genesis Rodriguez reached base on back-to-back singles to start the inning. Moreno’s RBI double scored Trevino from second and advanced Rodriguez to third.
Moreno and Rodriguez would cross home plate moments later after Bears catcher Genna Martinez hit a three-run home run to center field. Martinez’s home run extended Selma’s lead 4-0.
In the fifth inning, Moreno added to the Bears lead with a solo home run. Selma’s other two runs came from an RBI double from Trevino and a sacrifice fly from Moreno in the seventh inning.
“We definitely wanted to win,” Sanchez said. “We’re ready for them and we play them when we get back from break. For sure they’ll be hungry to beat us next time.”
Earlier that day, the Bears defeated Coalinga 14-4 in a shortened four inning game that ended early due to time restrictions in the tournament.
Selma was down 4-1 to the Horned Toads in the second inning, but the Bears lineup were tough to get out after that. Selma scored five runs in the third inning to take a 6-4 lead. Then, in the fourth inning, the Bears scored eight runs to extend its lead 14-4.
Selma batted one time through the lineup in the third and fourth innings.
“I know that our bats are going to come through,” Tapia said. “I expect us to scored eight to 10 runs a game. So [if we’re down] at 4-0, I’m still confident that we’re in the ballgame.”
On the first day of the tournament, the Bears defeated Mission Oak 7-6, then, Orange Cove 9-0 on April 13. The tournament took a break on Sunday April 14 and resumed the next day.
Selma (15-7, 5-4 CSL) will meet Exeter (14-7, 3-4 CSL) for a third matchup, but this time in a CSL game today at 4 p.m. The Bears will be on the road against the Monarchs. Then, Selma will host its senior night against Immanuel on Friday (4-15-1, 0-8). After, the Bears will close the regular season in a rivalry matchup at Kingsburg (18-4-1, 6-2 CSL) on May 2.