The drought was finally over for the Cabrillo College softball and baseball teams.
Well, sort of.
For the first time since 2016, both teams played in the first round of their respective CCCAA post-season tournaments.
Any excitement was short-lived, however, as Fresno City College baseball and Reedley College softball throttled the Seahawks’ playoff runs in just 23 hours, to survive-and-advance to the second round.
With the loss, Cabrillo teams fell to 1-4 in the postseason during the 2018-2019 academic year.
Women’s basketball coach John Wilson and his team registering the lone win on March 1 in the first round of the CCCAA NorCal Tournament in a 78-74 victory against the College of the Siskiyous.
According to the CCCAA, the No. 8 seeded Seahawks earned a first round home series based not only on who they played, but how well they played them.
Cabrillo’s reward for breaking its two year playoff drought and finishing behind two of the top five teams in the state was a home series. The Seahawks drew a No. 9-seed Reedley team spurred on by a “nobody respects us” attitude along with a pair of monster hitters.
Controversy over home seeding fueled the Tigers’ fire coming into a road matchup against the Seahawks, egged on by Reedley coach Kathy Kuball.
“The seeding process has to be revised,” Kuball said. “We did everything you are supposed to do by playing a tough out-of-conference schedule. We took on the San Joaquin Deltas, it is not our fault that other schools in our conference had a down season. There is no way we should have had to travel this weekend to play.”
After finishing 31-9 overall and 17-4 in conference — which was good enough for second place in the Central Valley Conference — Kuball felt slighted that her squad was seeded below a third place finishing team like Cabrillo.
The Tigers closed out the regular season ranked No. 8 in the RPI, or Rating Percentage Index.
In contrast, the Seahawks finished the regular season with a 24-13 overall record and 9-6 in conference play. Cabrillo ranked No. 7 in the RPI in Northern California, according the to CCCAA.
The two split their regular season series they played a double header on April 5 in Aptos.
The first game of the playoff series played out much like the regular season matchup with no clear advantage for either team.
Entering the top of the 11th innings the score was deadlocked at 4-4 when first-team All-State center fielder Lauren Lahood suffered a season ending elbow injury trying to chase down a fly ball.
Lahood was the “straw that stirs the drink” for the Seahawks, her loss rippled through Cabrillo’s lineup.
From that point on, the Tigers out scored the Seahawks 9-3 over 7 and ½ innings anchored by sophomore corner infielders Aunika Castellanos and Sandra Vallejo, who delivered go-ahead runs in both games.
“It’s really hard to have worked so hard all season for it to end like this,” Lahood said. “I am so proud of all these girls and the work they have put in. We will be back next year, I just wish we could have won it more for the sophomores.”
Lahood, a freshman from Scotts Valley, was one of the toughest base runners in the state to get out. She sported an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.313 and batted at a .490 batting average.
Just making the playoffs was a major step forward for Cabrillo coach Kristy Rossinger and her squad. Over the course of the year, the Seahawks hung tough with some of the top teams in the state, easily handling opponents that caused them trouble in the past.
With many of the best hitters on the team set to return next year, Rossinger is looking forward to building on this seasons positive momentum with a loaded roster.
In order to win a three-game series, a team needs a combination of two solid pitching performances, the best hitter in the series, home field advantage and a defining moment.
Most schools hope to have two of those four advantages on their side, but Fresno City College entered this past weekend’s series against Cabrillo with the whole kit and caboodle.
Rams freshmen starting pitchers Kohl Simas and Alec Gamboa threw a combined 15 innings and allowed one run, while striking out 17 batters and walking three.
“We played really, really well this weekend,” said Rams coach Ron Scott. “Our staff really delivered. When you have good pitching, you are a good coach that weekend.”
The Rams dominated in every facet and Scott said that meant the Seahawks didn’t even have to face the team’s left handed ace pitcher in the third and deciding game.
Fresno City sophomore outfielder and pitcher Chet Allison, who has committed to play for the University of Arkansas in the fall, went 5-for-8 at the plate with a home run, four RBIs and four runs scored for the Rams.
Allison’s home run in the bottom of the first inning of Game 2 was off of a low-and-away slider thrown by Cabrillo red-shirt sophomore pitcher James Schwenger. It was a major moment in the series.
Cabrillo executed exactly what they game planned for, but the Rams crushed it anyway.
“I threw it right where we wanted it to be,” Schwenger said. “(Allison) just got a good hold of it, and that was that. You’ve got to just tip your cap to a hitter like that.”
The Rams scored eight runs in each game of the first round to advance to the second round of the CCCAA tournament.
“We got beat by a better team,” said Kittle. “(Fresno CIty) has a lot of really good players. It was a good experience for our guys, and I am proud of how they left it all out there.”