ROCKLIN, Calif. – Menlo College Softball has had quite the interesting season, and it has featured a lot of high-drama contests. Saturday afternoon against William Jessup University was no different as Menlo dropped the opening game of the doubleheader 5-4, and then used a four-run seventh inning to take the lead in game two, ultimately winning it by a final of 6-3. The split on the afternoon serves as a huge boost to the Oaks, who are now tied with RV Arizona Christian for the final playoff spot in the Golden State Athletic Conference. Menlo now sits at 17-15 overall on the season and 4-8 in conference games while the Warriors are now 10-13 and 6-6 in conference play.
Menlo got off to a fast start in game one, as their first three hitters of the game reached base against Warriors ace Shelbi Graifman. Lauren Harrison led off the game with a single to left field, and Menlo decided to play small-ball, having Cassie Grana square around to bunt. As it turns out, she wound up reaching base on the well-executed bunt, putting two runners aboard. Bryce Etzler followed with a single to the gap in left-center, scoring Harrison and moving Grana to third, with Etzler following the throw up to second base. Sarah Reyes bounced into a fielder's choice that resulted in Grana being thrown out at the plate, but with Brooke Menesini batting, a wild pitch from Graifman scored Etzler and put the Oaks up early 2-0.
The Warriors controlled the middle innings of this game, and they answered fairly quickly against Menlo starting pitcher Victoria Cervantes. Having been one of the more reliable pitchers on the Oaks staff this season, she did not have her best stuff in game one. She allowed a single to lead off the bottom of the second, and after a fielder's choice kept a runner at first base, an error from Reyes at third put runners at the corners with one out. Another fielder's choice produced the first run of the game for the Warriors. The game would tie up at 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning after three Warriors singles culminated in an RBI single with two outs and the bases loaded. The tie was broken in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Cervantes would be chased from the game. Two consecutive errors from Cervantes put two runners on base, and then a two-run double scored both runners on base, giving the Warriors a 4-2 lead. Jordan Kennedy came in for Cervantes and gave up a wild pitch, and on an attempted throw to third, a third Menlo error in the inning allowed the run to score, making it 5-2.
Menlo tried chipping away at the game and started doing so in the top of the fifth when Brooke Menesini hit a home run to left field. Her third home run of the season made it 5-3, and one final push was made in the top of the seventh, the last chance for the Oaks. With two outs, Bryce Etzler went yard to left field to make it 5-4 and put the pressure on Graifman to end the threat. She induced a fly ball to left field to end the game and prevent some late-game heroics from Menlo. Etzler finished the game 3-4 with the home run, while Harrison was the only other Oak to record multiple hits, finishing 2-4 with a run scored.
Game two got off to the exact opposite of starts, with the Warriors coming out of the gates hot against Menlo starting pitcher Sarah Reyes. Two consecutive singles were allowed to begin play by Reyes, and a sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. After a lineout put the inning in a great spot with two down, a dropped fly ball in right field scored both runs in unearned fashion. Another error in right field put runners at the corners and an RBI single made it 3-0. The Oaks defense has been problematic all season long and cost them in a big way early in the game.
Mariah Gonzalez was on the mound for William Jessup in game two of the twin bill, and she would not allow anything on the scoreboard until the top of the third. Natalie Dorsey led off that inning with a single up the middle. Lauren Harrison stepped up with one out and drove a triple to left center field to score Dorsey. Cassie Grana then grounded out to short, but the Warriors conceded the run and it cut the lead down to 3-2. From this point on, pitchers would take over and dominate the game. Reyes made it through five innings, allowing the three runs early, five hits, and just one walk. Victoria Cervantes took over after five and allowed two hits in her two innings of work, but would wind up being a very important piece to keeping Menlo in this game.
Gonzalez was going for the complete game victory in the top of the seventh just like Graifman the game before. The Oaks, however, created more drama and wound up pulling off quite the rally. Kris McIntyre led off the inning pinch hitting, and she drew a walk. Harrison reached on a fielder's choice where the Warriors tried to cut down McIntyre at second, but she reached and Menlo put two runners on. Grana then blasted a double to center field to score both runs and put Menlo in front 4-3. After an Etzler walk, Ariana Belarde singled up the middle to score Grana and add one more run to the tally. An Alaina Morgan sacrifice fly scored the final run of the game and put Menlo in front 6-3. Cervantes would pitch a scoreless bottom of the seventh and somehow, Menlo escaped winners of game two, happy to settle for a split with the Warriors.
Menlo returns home to Atherton for an entire weekend at Wunderlich Field, with doubleheaders scheduled for March 24 and 25. Friday is against RV Arizona Christian and Saturday is against Notre Dame de Namur.