Los Osos softball team pulls upset of top seed

The Los Osos softball team may have finished a disappointing third in the Baseline League this season but the Grizzlies are trying to make up for that with a nice run in the postseason.

So far coach Mike Randall’s team has done just that. Los Osos upset top-seeded Corona Santiago 3-2 in a Division 1 second round game today.

Randall was confident his team was going to come out on top, saying as much earlier in the day. The fact that his team defeated Santiago 4-1 in a non-league game early this season had a lot to do with that.

“I told the girls not to buy into the hype,” he said. “They’re good. But I don’t think there is a team out there we can’t beat if we play our game.”

The Grizzlies, who needed last inning heroics to win a first round game over Chino, trailed Santiago 2-0 but got even with a pair of runs on the same play in the fifth. Pitcher Ciera Schick got a run home with a sacrifice fly but another run came home on an error.

The eventual game-winning hit came off the bat of Lexi Colon with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

The boosts Los Osos (20-12) into a quarterfinal game on Thursday at El Modena (21-8) which defeated Huntington Beach 8-2.

 

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Chino, Los Osos softball trying to find their groove in playoffs

The softball teams from Chino and Los Osos will square off today at 3:15 p.m. in a first round CIF division 1 game. It’s unusual they would meet in a first round game. Both are used to finishing first in their league which justifies a better playoff draw.

But both have had their issues this season. Chino (17-7-1) has made three straight trips to a CIF title game, winning titles in 2012 and 2013 and losing an extra-inning heart-breaker to nationally ranked Mission Viejo 1-0 in the title game a year ago.

The Cowboys settled for a share of the Hacienda League title this season and had uncharacteristic league losses to West Covina and Charter Oak.

Coach Mike Smith said before the season started the new league into which he moved was weaker than the one he moved out of in the Mt. Baldy. Maybe now that he has finished a year in that league he has changed his mind. But he’s pretty tuned in to the travel ball happenings and personnel of each team so that probably isn’t the case.

The only player his team graduate was stud pitcher Miranda Viramontes. Senior Tiffany Kennedy-Cummings (11-5, 1.40) has filled in admirably and her numbers are stellar so there must be an issue elsewhere.

Complacency? Maybe. Smith has had to get on his teams at time this season about that very issue and admits he isn’t quite sure what to expect with his team as the playoffs start.

Los Osos (18-12)  won Baseline a year ago and dropped just one game. This year coach Mike Randall’s team settled for third. They were lucky to finish third, needing an upset of Chino Hills the final game of the regular season to finish there.

Sure, the addition of Chino Hills made repeating difficult to begin with, but the Grizzlies have lost to the likes of St. Lucy’s and Upland, both teams they have not struggled with before now.

Like Chino, Los Osos graduated a top line pitcher. But unlike the Cowboys, the Grizzlies also graduated some key position players, including infielder McKenzie Long, the league player of the year who has gone on to a stellar freshman season at Michigan State.

So one team is going to be ushered out of the playoffs in the first round, something to which it is not accustomed.

The reward for the winner is an an appointment with top seed Corona Santiago, barring a jarring upset in that first round game.

It’s time to see what both these teams are made of.

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Los Osos softball team sees past wins and losses

 

 

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Shelby Qualley didn’t get a single at-bat for the Los Osos softball team this season, at least not in a game. But make no mistake about it – she is every bit as much a part of the team as senior Marissa Young, who has pitched the majority of the innings for the Grizzlies this year.

Qualley is a 16-year-old junior with Down’s Syndrome. She attends practices and games just like every other member. She has always hung out in the classroom of coach Mike Randall because all the other players hung out there.

So two years ago Randall made her part of the team. She would even get a chance to hit a time or two at the end practice.

When Shelby asked the coach before a scrimmage early last year when she was going to get to hit in the game, Randall paused. After much deliberation he came up with a idea.

After every game, even before the teams shake hands, Shelby goes to the plate. Her teammates stand side-by-side along the third base line. The other team is still in the field, but gather in the infield. The pitcher lobs her a ball until she gets a hit. Sometimes it takes a few pitches. But she eventually hits the ball, runs the bases, and comes around to touch home plate.

Her teammates pick her up and toss her in the air. Only then do the traditional post-game festivities begin.

Randall always discusses the routine with the opposing coach before the game and 90% of them are fully on board with the plan.

“It just puts things in perspective,” Randall said. “Yes to us sports are important. But they’re not really as important as we sometimes think they are.”

This seemed to be a particularly close group of players. They’re bond is evident in the way they have rallied around Shelby and included her as part of the team. Thumbs up to them for seeing past hits and errors, wins and losses.

And thumbs up to the other teams for seeing the value in that moment as well.

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