By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
When Garden Grove pitcher Jasmine Antunez gave up an 11th-inning hit against Kaiser of Fontana Friday at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine, head coach John Petrie didn‘t think it mattered. He was almost right. But then the unthinkable happened. A two-out wild pitch gave Kaiser the game’s only run, the win and the CIF Division 4 softball championship.
“Jasmine pitched a great game and the team gave their best,” Petrie said. “It wasn’t good enough today.”
“Their best” was more than good enough all year. In 2012, the Lady Argonauts won 23 and lost six overall, including a 9-1 record and a first-place finish in the Garden Grove League.
Until that last play, the Argonauts had been more than good enough all night. Backed by a stellar defense and eight strikeouts, Antunez gave up just four hits and struck out eight over 10.2 shutout innings, including a string of 15-straight outs. Kaiser‘s first five hitters didn’t reach base at all.
So even after Kaiser’s ninth-place hitter Alyssa Dialan led off the inning with a single, Petrie remained confident in his team, especially with a 17-game winner and the best player he ever coached in the circle.
“With Jasmine pitching, the top of the order didn’t do much against us,” Petrie said. “I thought we were in a good position.”
Sure enough, the Argonauts got two quick outs. Kaiser leadoff hitter Danielle Jeffress sacrificed to get pinch runner Rebecca Garcia to second base. Then Jordyn Buffum grounded out as Garcia moved to third.
The Argonauts were one out away from going to the 12th. But Kaiser was 90 feet from the win. And its top run producer Jesslene Contreras was up.
But instead of a big hit, a bad bounce decided the game. Antunez’s first pitch skipped to the backstop and Garcia scored the winning run.
The game’s ending didn’t match the near-perfect performances from both teams. Kaiser’s Krystel Gabbard pitched 11 scoreless innings and scattered five Argonaut singles for the win.
Whenever either team made a threat on the bases, it was usually squashed by a great defensive play.
Argonaut shortstop Desiree Rascon stopped a two-out Kaiser threat in the third inning when she snagged a hard-hit ball in the gap and threw a strike to first base, barely beating the runner and stranding a runner on third.
In the fifth, Antunez got out of her own jam.
With one out and runners in scoring position, the senior fielded a grounder and then struck out Jeffress to end the threat.
Antunez led the Argonauts with two singles and a walk. The Argonauts got the leadoff hitter on base four times but never got a runner past second base.