MORENO VALLEY — There would have been a bitter feeling if the Valley View softball team lost Tuesday.
The Eagles had the potential winning run taken off the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth inning after a controversial ruling. Annamaria Nuno made sure Valley View celebrated at the very end, however, as she smacked a walk-off single to lift the Eagles to a 2-1 victory over Cypress in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 wild-card game.
The Eagles (15-9-1) will travel to No. 1-seeded Oaks Christian (28-0) for a first-round game Thursday.
Valley View had runners and second and third with one out in the sixth inning and the scored tied 1-1. Cypress right fielder Jaelyn Gutierrez made a diving catch coming forward on a sinking line drive off the bat of Janessa Santos for the second out. Briana Williams took a few steps off third but appeared to go back and tag up and score the go-ahead run. The plate umpire, however, ruled Williams did not tag up.
The score remained knotted into the eighth inning, when both teams had the heart of the order due up.
Santos retired Cypress in order, getting a strikeout and a pair of ground outs to shortstop Arissa Santos.
Cypress pitcher Vise Zarate got the leadoff batter in the bottom of the eighth before Celeste Gonzales came up with her third hit of the game to get things started for Valley View. Gonzalez stole her third base of the game to move into scoring position. With first base open, Cypress coach Kevin Dull elected to walk Williams, a .500 hitter who had reached safely in her previous three appearances (single and two walks).
That decision backfired, as Nuno jumped on the first pitch and hammered it to the wall in right field. Gonzales had to wait to see if the ball would be caught and initially stopped coming around third base. The relay from the outfield took some time, so Gonzales sprinted home and slid in for the winning run.
“It’s all about believing in yourself and wanting to help your team win,” Nuno said about her feeling when Williams was intentionally walked to get to her. “I’m usually a first-pitch hitter, so I was just looking for something close to make good contact. I was just hoping really hard she wouldn’t catch it.”
Coach Eddie Torres praised his team’s ability to remain composed after that call in the sixth inning.
“The six seniors we have are tremendous leaders and hold this team together,” Torres said. “You look back at the big moments that helped decide this game, and they were in the middle of most of those.”
Valley View grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning in unusual fashion. Gonzales lined a ball down the line in right field. Gutierrez was on the way to making a spectacular diving catch, but the ball came out of her glove when she hit the ground. Gonzales circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.
Cypress (12-16) tied the game in the fifth when Alexa Meraz crushed a home run to straightway center.
It was one of the few mistakes made by Janessa Santos, who tossed a five-hitter and struck out five.She retired nine of the last 10 batters, and the one batter that reached was erased on a double play.
“I tried to stay relaxed and take some deep breathes,” Santos said. “My defense really had my back.”
Zarate was the hard-luck losing pitcher Tuesday, as she scattered seven hits and struck out five.