By Fred J. Robledo
WEST COVINA – There figured to be a dramatic ending to the Hacienda League softball title and Los Altos, West Covina and Bonita provided every bit of it entering the final day in a three-way tie for first.
Trailing West Covina by a run entering the top of the seventh, Los Altos junior Celeste Wood provided the spark with a game-tying solo home run, and Berlynne Delamora singled and later scored on a one-out passed ball to rally the Conquerors to a 4-3 victory.
Wood, who earned the victory in the circle, got West Covina clean-up hitter Maddy Tickey to ground out with the tying runner on second in the bottom of the seventh to earn the Conquerors (14-6, 10-2) a share of the league title.
Bonita (17-6, 10-2) hung on to share the title with Los Altos, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh with a double play to hang on for a 10-8 victory over Diamond Ranch.
A coin flip will determine who enters the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs as the league’s top entry with West Covina (16-11, 9-3) finishing third.
Wood talked about her homer that gave the Conquerors life.
“It feels great, it feels like I have my team’s back always,” Wood said. “I have faith in them and I’m not going to give up on them.”
Los Altos coach Nacho Hernandez only has one senior, but you never would have known it with the Conquerors’ clutch effort.
“We knew what this game meant and we’re a super young team and talked about playing together and working through this,” Hernandez said. “It shows the maturity of these girls from where they started to where they’re now. Not one time were they rattled or scared.”
Tickey’s double scored Nadiya Lozano in the first to stake West Covina to a 1-0 lead, but the Conquerors tied in on Vanessa Montezuma’s RBI single that drove in Berlynne Delamora in the second inning.
Montezuma came up big again, belting a double to score Ashley Carbajal in the third inning to put Los Altos up, 2-1.
But West Covina came back to take the lead in the fourth on Danae Delgado’s single that scored Bella Montoya and Ashley Mayorga for a 3-2 lead.
Then it all fell apart in the seventh.
“Losing is always tough but losing the league title on a passed ball is really tough,” West Covina coach Jesse Mendez said. “Our girls wanted it, they worked hard and I’m proud of what they’ve done, but Los Altos got the hits when they needed them.
“Championship games are always tough to lose, but it was a good game and I have to give them (Los Altos credit).”