By Steve Ramirez
WALNUT - It’s on to Bakersfield for the Mt. San Antonio College softball team.
Alyssa Gonzales went 4 for 5, including a three-run home run and five RBIs, and the host Mounties punched their ticket to next weekend’s California Community College Athletic Association Final Four at Bakersfield College with a 9-5 victory over Cerritos in Sunday’s championship game of the Southern California Super Regionals.
Mt. SAC, also getting two RBIs from Cya Neal and a solid effort in the circle from Alexa Limon, improved to 41-4 and will open the CCCAA Final Four on Friday at 8 p.m. against an opponent to be determined. The Mounties, who lost in the state title game last season, are seeking the school’s fifth CCCAA softball championship after winning in 2003, ’05, ’07 and ’09.
Cerritos, despite a three-run home run from Matauaina I’aulualo, finished 34-12.
“I’m just excited,” Mt. SAC coach Kelly Ford said. “It was an amazing (super regional). Our girls just rose to the occasion. Really that’s what it’s about.
“(It was) timely hits, timely pitches. Cerritos did a great job, but we handled the pressure they put on us and doubled it back on them.”
Mt. SAC, which cruised to an 11-0 victory over Cerritos on Saturday after hitting six home runs, had seven doubles to battle back from a 1-0 deficit. The Mounties scored four funs in the fourth inning and two in the fifth to go ahead 6-1.
Gonzales and Neal had back-to-back RBI doubles in the fourth for a 2-1 lead before Kim Pena walked with the bases loaded to make it 3-1. That was followed by Vanessa Bracamonte’s RBI single.
Run-scoring doubles by Gonzales and Neal made it 6-1 in the fifth.
But Cerritos, which appeared to fold in Saturday’s loss, didn’t cave in on Sunday.
The Falcons rallied to cut it to 6-4 on I’aulualo’s three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, then loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth.
But Limon, who was replaced by Michelle Escamilla to begin the inning, re-entered the game. She gave up a sacrifice fly by Alexxa Sanabria that made it 6-5 but then induced Maiya Tallakson and Natalie Garcia to pop out.
“It was a pretty awesome performance,” Ford said. “They are a good hitting team and make adjustments, too. But for (Limon) to come back in and close it … wow!
“Michelle is just as talented, but Cerritos had her number. But for Alexa to come back in the game and get it done, that was just magnificent.”
Gonzales then sealed the deal in the seventh, but only after getting a break.
The Mounties’ designated player hit a foul pop-up that was dropped and followed with a three-run home run to push the lead to 9-5.
“I was confused about it, whether it was (an infield fly rule or not),” Gonzales said. “But I told myself that I really have to get a hit now.”
Limon, who gave up just three hits to improve to 18-3, then wrapped it up by getting Gabriela Villareal on a fly out to send the Mounties north.
“It feels so great,” Gonzales said. “We were just battling this whole game. It’s exciting.”