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Softball - Thu, Feb. 16, 2017

WEST COVINA, Calif. – Playing three games in one day against three different teams is never an easy task. Playing three games where one started at noon and the last finished near midnight is even harder. Combine the two and you had a grueling day for softball at the 2017 NAIA SoCal Classic, hosted by Biola University. Menlo College won their first two games on Wednesday and kept that streak alive on Thursday, winning all three games on their plate. With Friday's action being rained out, Menlo finishes off the tournament 5-0 to improve to 11-3 on the season.

Menlo vs. University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia jumped on the board early against Menlo starter Sarah Reyes, who did not have her A-game in Game 2 of the triple header. Reyes would only face five hitters, and failed to retire a single one. Three walks and two singles were the damage done against Reyes, and once she exited the game, British Columbia already had two runs on the board. Jordan Kennedy came in for damage control, and she shut the door on the rally by getting a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to retire the side. Down two runs early and already dipping into the bullpen, it did not seem like the best of starts for Menlo.

That's when the bats continued to do what they have done all tournament long: torment the opposition. Menlo put up crooked numbers (innings with multiple runs scored) in each of the final four innings of the ball game, starting with the tying runs in the second inning. Brooke Shigematsu singled with one out, and with two outs in the inning, the frame was kept alive with a Morgan Zimmerman single. Natalie Dorsey provided her seventh RBI of the day (after six in Game 1) with a single through the right side, and then Cassie Grana singled home another run behind Dorsey. Kennedy provided a 1-2-3 bottom of the second, and the Oaks were in business with the game tied at 2-2.

Menlo broke out the long ball in the final innings of this contest, and it started in the top of the third. Brooke Menesini singled to lead off, and then Reyes provided some help to the cause with a blast to left field. Her second home run of the season gave Menlo a 4-2 lead. Two batters later, Megan Wright hit one out to straight away centerfield to make it a 5-2 game. After Keeley Hernandez and Bryce Etzler hit back-to-back doubles to lead off the fourth, Menesini homered to center for the third Menlo bomb of the game, making it 8-2. As if the lead was not comfortable enough, Menlo added six more runs in the top of the fifth, in what would prove to be the last inning of the game. The inning was highlighted once again by a Menesini mash, once again leaving the yard in centerfield. Her second home run of the game gave her 4 RBI, capping off a 3-4 game in the grandest of fashions, and closing off the 14-3 win in style. Kennedy picked up the win for the Oaks after pitching five innings and allowing just one run.

Menlo vs. Northwest Christian

Of all the games in the 2017 NAIA SoCal Classic, the one was the most evenly matched that Menlo played in. Only the pitchers were successful in the early portions of the game, as it appeared to be a duel between Alyssa Gayle and Victoria Cervantes. The freshman out of Escondido (Cervantes) was on the mound for the second time today and looking sharp again for the Oaks, but she did allow the first run of the game. Northwest Christian struck first after three consecutive singles with one out loaded the bases. A fielder's choice groundout that could not be turned into a double play resulted in the lone run scored in the inning for Northwest Christian, staking themselves to an early 1-0.

As was so often the case for Menlo in the tournament, any deficits they did face did not last long. Two big innings were all the Oaks needed to get out in front, and it started in the bottom of the fourth. Three singles of their own was how the rally got started in the fourth, and it began with a hit from Sarah Reyes. Brooke Menesini followed with one of her own, and they were both brough in by Keeley Hernandez, in the middle of a wildly successful tournament of her own. Her two-run single put the Oaks up 2-1. Brooke Shigematsu wanted to make sure that one more run was added for insurance purposes, and she singled in Hernandez with one out to make it 3-1.

As the clock got closer to midnight, the Oaks bats were just getting warmed up. Another big rally came about for Menlo in the bottom of the sixth. Ariana Belarde singled to lead off, and advanced to second when Shigematsu reached on fielder's choice. McKenna Vega singled home one run with an RBI single, and it moved Shigematsu to third. Kris McIntyre laid down a bunt that scored Shigematsu and brought Vega to third. Morgan Zimmerman followed with a double to right field that scored both runners aboard a put an exclamation point on the four-run inning. Cervantes would finish off the seventh to earn the complete game victory, and Menlo made it a perfect 5 for 5 at the 2017 NAIA SoCal Classic

Originally, the Oaks were scheduled to play a sixth game Friday morning against Northwest University. All games on Friday have been postponed due to weather, and with Menlo having a scheduled doubleheader at home against #19 Oregon Tech on Saturday, they will not be making up the contest. So, Menlo returns to the Bay and will host the Owls on Saturday afternoon for two games, starting at 12:00 PM.