CCS Softball: Aptos sheds no tears after early postseason exit

CARMEL — There were no tears.

There were no frowns.

They didn’t sulk.

“We played a great game and we’re excited that we gave it our all,” said Aptos High junior outfielder Vanessa Segura.

Aptos was all smiles despite having its season stopped in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs. And even if the No. 12-seeded Mariners were looking to throw a fit after their 3-2 loss to No. 5 Carmel High, they didn’t have much to pout about.

Aptos (14-10) played about as well as it could’ve, and came one swing short of completing a miraculous come-from-behind win in its return to the section playoffs. The Mariners had the tying run on first base and brought the game-winning run to the plate, but couldn’t punch their ticket into Saturday’s quarterfinal round.

Still, the Mariners, champions of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League for the first time since 2011, were filled with giggles, not salt.

“We achieved what we wanted to this whole season, which is win league,” said Aptos senior third baseman Addison Sayers. “We wanted to come into this game and still try to fight. We went down with a good run.”

Aptos entered the seventh inning down 3-1, and quickly burned through its first two outs before Sayers smashed a pitch into deep left field for a triple. Segura brought her home with a single to slice the deficit in half, but Carmel’s (16-6) junior pitcher Jessica Pavloff closed the door on the Mariners’ comeback soon after.

Aptos junior pitcher Julia Cano suffered the loss. She allowed eight hits, three walks and no earned runs.

“It was a great game and we expected it,” said Carmel head coach James Pingree. “They’re a good team. They won their league. They swing it well and they’re aggressive. It was exactly the type of game we thought it was going to be.”

Aptos took the initial lead in the top of the third inning on an RBI single from junior first baseman Martina Churchill, but Carmel struck back in the bottom of the frame with senior third baseman Anna Buzan’s RBI single.

The teams stayed tied until the bottom of the sixth. A costly Aptos error on a throw home allowed Carmel to plate a pair of runs, including the game’s decisive score.

It was the Mariners’ lone blunder of an otherwise impressive performance.

“I’m so proud of us,” Segura said. “This season was so much fun. We made so many memories.”

One of their most satisfying moments of the season came last week. Aptos captured the SCCAL championship on the final day of the regular season with an emotional 10-6 comeback win over San Lorenzo Valley High.

The Mariners said they were still riding the wave of emotions from that win on Monday and Tuesday, but were all business by the time first pitch came around on Wednesday.

“I think we were focused in and we were ready for this game,” Sayers said.

Segura and Sayers were the lone Mariners with more than one hit. Senior outfielder Sophia Villegas, and sophomore outfielder Sunshyne Brechler also recorded a hit for Aptos.

Cano ran into trouble in several innings, but managed to wiggle out of harm’s way time and again. She stranded a pair of Carmel runners in the second and third innings, and escaped a bases-loaded situation in the fifth before the game-changing error in the sixth.

Cano will be one of nine players who will return next season for the Mariners. They will, however, graduate six seniors: Ashley Del Coletti, Braelynn Westjohn, Mariah Sanchez, Allie Diaz, Villegas and Sayers.

“We know that we’re going to lose a lot of players, but next year is a whole new season and anything can happen,” Segura said. “I know I can’t wait for next season.”

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