By GERARDO RECINOS
For the third year in a row, the Alhambra Lady Bulldogs will be playing for the North Coast Section crown.
It’s only fitting that the twice defending champions should get a chance to defend their title as their swan song in Division II. The Bulldogs could earn the distinction after a 5-1 win over Carondelet-Concord on June 1 put them in the big dance.
It wasn’t a forgone conclusion, and although no one was saying it, this is where the Dogs expected to be.
Well almost no one. Coach Paul Buccellato isn’t exactly quiet about the fact that he feels his team is one of the best in the section overall, so after the game he was still a peeved with some of the mistakes made in the loss, and their weren’t many.
Sam Whitworth twirled a gem, going the distance and allowing only six hits in a tidy 80-pitch outing. She did however allow an RBI-double to Carondelet’s Michaela VanDerklugt.
But Buccellato took the blame for that one. He called for a drop ball, despite wanting Whitworth to throw a change-up.
“She pitched pretty good, and didn’t have her best stuff. That team [Carondelet] can hit,” Buccellato said. “As soon as I called it, I yelled out at Cara [DiMercurio], ‘no, no, no!’ She hit it right where I knew she was going to hit it.”
But Whitworth pitched through the adversity, stranding six runners, and getting out of some jams with strong pitching and some good defense behind her.
Lindsey Osmer, who went 2-for-2 at the plate, turned three double plays for her pitcher, including one in the first inning with clean-up hitter Keleva Salt at the plate.
Alhambra had a couple of wasted chances themselves at the plate, but did all their scoring in one inning, so they didn’t need to do much more.
Bri Perez drove in her 36th and 37th RBIs of the season on a single to center field to spark the Bulldogs. Perez had gone 0-for-2 against Concord, only the fourth time this seasons he had failed to get a hit.
She made herself a menace on the base paths and swiped second and third before scoring on a fielder’s choice.
Senior Cara DiMercurio singled in a run in her last game at Lady Bulldog field and righted the ship after she too went hitless against Concord on May 27. Regan Silva also drove in a run on a booming RBI double.
Twice the Bulldogs nearly put up another crooked number on Carondelet sophomore lefty Sophia Earle, but she was left of the hook by a base running gaffe by the Bulldogs, and a poor call on a sacrifice fly by the umpires.
But it didn’t seem to matter, as Whitworth tip-toed around the circle confidently to get a win in her final outing at Lady Bulldog Field.
Alhambra will do battle with a familiar foe in the Division II title game on June 4, as they take on Newark Memorial. The Bulldogs beat the Cougars in last season’s semi-final 2-1, and 5-3 in a tournament game in Reno this season. Sophomore Briana Edwards got the win in that contest.