The Napa High softball team showed Clayton Valley Charter and the rest of the North Coast Section that the Vine Valley Athletic League champion is not to be taken lightly in the postseason.
The eighth-seeded Grizzlies advanced with a barrage of hits that had the visitors, with the unlikely nickname of the Ugly Eagles, running for cover in a 23-13 rout.
Napa head coach Ron Walston was as surprised as anyone.
“Playoff softball is crazy,” he said. “To see runs put up by both teams like that, you never expect it.”
The Grizzlies (15-7) had a lot of hitting stars on the day – especially freshman Caity Newburn, who hammered a three-run homer to left with two outs to give Napa a 21-13 lead.
“I just really wanted to hit something hard and was looking for the pitch that I wanted,” Newburn said. “I got it and I hit it hard.”
Napa won the game courtesy of the 10-run rule in the bottom of the sixth after a two-run double by Haylee Giarritta. The Napa shortstop had five hits, including two doubles, and four RBIs.
The ninth-seeded Ugly Eagles (14-9) started off well enough, grabbing a 2-0 lead thanks to a two-run blast by Jordan Woolery in the top of the first. No problem for the Grizzlies, who came back in the bottom of the frame with eight runs on seven hits to take command of the game 8-2. Guzman, Giarritta, Walston, Lindsey Lehman, Jordan Blackmon, Jenna Baker and Delila Tapia all hit safely in the first.
But Clayton Valley was not finished. In the top of the third, the Ugly Eagles closed to within two runs at 8-6 with the big hit being a two-run double by Delaney Urban.
Napa responded by plating eight more runs and pushing the lead to 17-6. Guzman had two hits and Abby Arata, Giarritta, Olivia Vavricka, Blackmon and Baker one each in the frame as the Grizzlies batted around for the second time in the game.
Kimmie Walston pitched the first 3 2/3 innings to record the win for Napa, with Jenna Baker going the rest of the way. Natalie Baptista took the loss for the Ugly Eagles. In fairness to the pitchers on both sides, the strike zone seemed remarkably small and strikes were hard to come by.
“The score doesn’t show it, but both Kimmie and Jenna pitched very well,” asserted Newburn.
The Grizzlies’ reward for an impressive win is a trip to Pleasanton to play Foothill, the No. 1 seed with a gaudy 25-0 record, on a date that was undetermined as of Tuesday night.
Coach Walston said his team won’t be intimidated.
“It never gets any easier. If you keep advancing, you’re going to face good teams,” he said. “Sure, we’d like to have played another game before facing Foothill. But I’ve seen these girls do amazing things and I’ll never count them out, I’ll put them up against anyone if we’re playing our best.”