In a battle of two Southern California D-2 softball titadoubleheader, San Marcos swept a double header over rival Concordia Irvine 5-4 and 4-2. They were two competitive and exciting games at Eagle Field in Irvine.
Cal State San Marcos came into the Saturday tilt ranked No. 8 in the latest D-2 national rankings, and Concordia Irvine came into the weekend ranked No. 3 in the country. These games were non-league as each team was feeling each other out as it is possible they may face each other in the NCAA playoffs beginning in May.
Cal State San Marcos came into the weekend 31-3 and 22-2 in CCAA conference play, while the Eagles of Concordia entered Saturday with a 38-3 overall record and a stellar 24-0 record in PacWest conference play. Savannah Coyle (13-1) started game one for the Cougars, while Rae Flores (8-0) of Concordia started the game for the Eagles. Both pitchers were on their game, but in the top of the third, the Cougars were able to load the bases on a walk and two singles by Mackenzie Giuliano and Coyle. Paige Donnelly was hit by a pitch, plating one run, and two subsequent errors by Concordia’s third baseman Sydney Sprinkle allowed four more runs to cross the plate, giving CS San Marcos a 5-0 lead.
Coyle looked dominant through six innings striking out six and spreading out six hits. However, in the bottom of the seventh inning,, the Eagles struck back. Shelby Pfeiler led off the inning with a single. Shelli Faulk followed with another single to put runners on first and second. Coach Stephanie Ewing then brought in Jamie Ponce to pitch. A passed ball and a walk to Michalah Robison loaded the bases for Kendall Flatt, who promptly laced a single to score pinch-runner Megan Johnson.
A fielder choice and a pop-up brought the Cougars two quick outs, but the Eagles were not done. A hit by pitch to Jasmine Gorman got the Eagles one run closer, and a Sydney Sprinkle line-drive single to left brought the Eagles within one run at 5-4. Coach Ewing decided to bring back Coyle into the circle, who induced a strikeout of Rylie Rohr to preserve the win for the Cougars. Coyle ended up going 6 1/3 innings allowing seven hits and improved her record to 14-1, while Flores took her first loss of the season.
In Game two, Jayline Sloss took the mound for CSUSM, sporting a gleaming 8-1 record, while Courtney Koehlmans was in the circle for Concordia. Koehlmans has also been lights out this year with a 7-0 record, and 2 saves to her credit. The game, as expected was low scoring and a grind-it-out affair. Cal State San Marcos was able to get one run in the top of the third off a Paige Donnelly single to center scoring Bianca Gutierrez, who had doubled to lead off the inning. Concordia was held scoreless until the sixth inning when Michalah Robison lined a two-out, two-strike pitch to right field to score both Megan Johnson and Jasmine Gorman, giving the Eagles a short-lived one-run lead. The Cougars battled back in the top of the seventh, and pinch hitter Kayla Mack was able to get a line drive past the diving attempt of 1st baseman Shelli Faulk to score Savannah Coyle, who had singled to tie the game.
The Cougars struck quickly in extra innings as Paige Donnelly singled off new pitcher Kaylin Entrup. Sammie Olivo followed with a single, with Donnelly moving to third base. Coach Crystal Rosenthal went to her game one starter Rae Flores to try and stop the rally, but two sacrifice flies, first by Madison Waymire and then by Gianna Lombardi, plated two runs for the Cougars. Sloss was able to finish off the game with a quiet bottom of the eighth, just allowing a 2-out single to Michalah Robison and getting her 9th win of the season.
CSUSM improved their record to 33-3 overall while Concordia fell to 38-5. When asked about how he felt about the day, Assistant Coach AJ Robinson of CSUSM stated, “It was great to show the girls what playoff competition is going to look like against a top-quality team. We played well. That’s a good sign.” Coach Rosenthal was also asked about the day, and she said, “it wasn’t a great day, but both teams played well, and we battled.”
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Both teams will return to league action this coming weekend, with the Eagles heading up to the Bay Area to take on Holy Names and the Cougars taking the drive up the 5 to Los Angeles for a 4-game set against CS-Dominguez Hills. Both teams will look to continue their winning ways in preparation for the NCAA D-2 regional, which starts May 12.
Michael Gross has been coaching and writing about softball for over 15 years. He is currently the Head Coach at Southwestern College in San Diego and the Israeli U18/19 National Team Head Coach. Coach Gross was the Head Coach at Olympian High School for 7 years where he won 2 CIF titles. He is also a professional Public Address Announcer working for San Diego State University, Point Loma Nazarene, UC San Diego, CIF San Diego Section and several local high schools as well as announcing for CIF. He has his BA from the University of Phoenix and his MS in Exercise Science from Concordia -Irvine
Coach Gross is a native San Diegan and lives in Chula Vista with his wife Lisa, his 3 daughters and their 2 dogs.