College softball: Homegrown Sierra College team comes up just short in state championship

·3 min read
David Sanborn/Sierra College

The Sierra College women’s softball team enjoyed a magical and surprising journey to the California Community College state championships over the weekend, winning 40 games in the lead-up to the title game. A 41st win would have given the Wolverines a state championship, but a talented College of San Mateo team knocked them off in the title game.

Sierra lost the final game of the championships 8-1 after beating San Mateo 7-6 in the first game of the finals earlier Sunday at Bakersfield Community College. Pitcher Amaya Sutton (Antelope High School) took the team on her back the entire season, but rarely pitched both ends of a doubleheader, as she was asked to do Sunday. She was a shutdown pitcher for 350 pitches in the three games leading up to the final game, but was unable to get out of the first inning of the final game against a strong San Mateo lineup as the Bulldogs built a five-run lead on their way to their first women’s state title in any sport.

Sutton ended a brilliant freshman campaign with a 27-6 record.

Nobody saw this coming. After starting the season with a 5-4 record, few would have predicted this team would be one of the last two teams standing at the end of the season. But the Wolverines began hitting for average and power midway through the season and won 21 of 23 heading into the finale Sunday afternoon.

Sierra swept West Valley and Delta to make it to the Elite Eight as the No. 3 seed from Northern California; The Wolverines promptly lost to Cypress in the first game. That meant they would have to win six straight games to win a state title. They fell one win short after sending home every team from Southern California. Sierra played San Mateo three times this season and won the first two games.

“Amaya was amazing, Darcy Gillan had a great tournament, Ellie Enriquez was a force at shortstop and at the plate and Meadow Topete made some great catches in the outfield,” said Brownell, who is one of only two active junior college softball coaches with more than 800 wins.

Gillan hit .524 in the tournament, scored six runs and drove in seven more. She was intentionally walked four times. Enriquez hit .440, scoring eight runs, and Topete hit .348. All were named to the state championship all-tournament team, along with Sutton, Jada Bolar (Lincoln) and Emily Walker.

Sierra’s team is very much a homegrown group. Only three players are from outside the Sacramento area and seven are from within a 12-mile radius of the school. Enriquez dazzled with her play at shortstop, her speed and slapper’s touch as the leadoff hitter. She was the backup quarterback and placekick-holder at Rosemont High School before COVID-19 her senior season. She found a home at Sierra, hitting .490. She attempted 56 stolen bases and was caught only six times, third-best in the state.

Bolar and catcher Bailey Reid are the only two sophomores on a team that looks to make it back to the state tournament next season.

“San Mateo is a great team and I’m happy for (San Mateo coach Nicole Borg) to get her first championship,” said Brownell. “We won it in 2014 and came up one game short this time around. We’ll be back.”

Sierra was trying to win the school’s third state title this year, following the success of women’s basketball and the men’s swimming and diving teams.

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