By Steve Ramirez
SAN DIMAS — San Dimas High School has won the Valle Vista League softball title the previous four seasons.
The Saints took a big step toward a fifth Wednesday.
Briana Quintana singled with the bases loaded in the 10th inning and host San Dimas took over first place with a 4-3 victory over Northview in a league encounter that also featured two of the top teams in the area.
Senior pitcher Bethie Celaya tossed a four-hitter and struck six for the Saints, who improved to 14-7 overall and 6-0 in league play. The Vikings, getting two RBIs from Monet Manning and Erinn Jaramillo hit a home run, slipped to 13-5 and 5-1.
“It’s a big win for us,” Quintana said. “(Northview is) our main competition. Winning here, puts us on top.”
Kaili Now started San Dimas’ winning rally when she beat out an infield single with one out. Deenah San Luis followed with a single to center field, which forced Northview coach Jeff Butler to make an unconventional decision of intentionally walking catcher Janell Wheaton to load the bases with one out.
Wheaton was 1 for 3 with a RBI triple in the third.
“I knew we were in trouble no matter what we did,” Butler said. “My philosophy forever has always been to not let their best hitter beat us. Janell is their best hitter. Briana is a good hitter too, but it put us in a force situation and a possible double play to get out of the inning.
“Sometimes you have to roll the bones. I rolled them and it didn’t come out right this time.”
Quintana made sure of it, grounding a single to center to score Now for the 4-3 victory.
“I was just trying to help my team,” Quintana said. “(Mejia) was throwing really hard and I knew I needed to get a hit and I got it.”
Earlier, Northview looked like it might win easily. The Vikings, after a walk to Ana Mejia and a single by Jocelyn Marquez, loaded the bases with one out and took a 2-0 lead on a single by Manning.
But Celaya got Haley Gomez to fly out and Reyanne Gonzales to hit into a force play. She settled down and gave up just two hits — one being Jaramillo’s tying home run in the sixth — over the final nine innings to keep San Dimas in it.
“I knew we were trouble when we didn’t score more runs,” Butler said. “We had (Celaya) on the ropes, first and second, two runs in and we let her off the hook.
“We just didn’t it. Of all the things we might not do, hitting (wasn’t one of them). It’s been our strength all season. But give Bethie credit. She kept us off balance the whole game.”
The Saints cut it to 2-1 in the second on a triple by Carlie Salm and a RBI single by Rachael Connell. San Dimas took a 3-2 lead in the third. Now, with two outs, singled and stole second before scoring on a single by San Luis. Wheaton followed with a RBI triple for the lead.
Jaramillo’s home run tied in the sixth before the Saints took over first with Quintana’s single in the 10th.
“It’s a big win,” San Dimas coach Don Pollard said. “We were on a collision course, both 5-0 (coming in). It was a key game forever who could get it.”
By Steve Ramirez