SAN MATEO - Needing to win this the hard way, the Sierra College women's softball team beat Ohlone College twice Sunday afternoon to win its California Community College Northern California Super Regional Championship here in blustery conditions that made routine pop-ups an exercise.
The Wolverines of Rocklin downed the Renegades of Fremont 9-0 in a loser's bracket final early Sunday and then followed with a 16-12 slug fest triumph over the same club to advance to next weekend's State Championship Final Four in what should be toasty warm Bakersfield, a far cry from Sunday's wintry feel.
Sierra has now won four Super Regional titles under coach Darci Brownell, in her 12th season. Sierra played for the state title in 2009.
"We're going to finish it this time," a jubilant Brownell said, her giddy players behind her. "That's our motto - finish. We started this season in Bakersfield in a tournament and now we get to finish."
Brownell said she is continuously amazed by her team's resolve. Sierra played its poorest game of a record dream season in the opener of this Super Regional in the Peninsula, losing to Ohlone 7-3, a team the Wolverines beat three times in the regular season. But Sierra responded with three consecutive wins in the loser's bracket, no easy feat given the competition and toll.
"They did it," Brownell said of her crew. "We've been a team that has overcome so many weird, bizarre things all year. We do well with adversity. Last night, we had to scramble to find new hotel rooms. In the Big 8 Conference championship game, the umpires didn't show up. In another earlier this year, we had a player who got really ill. Things like that, but it's brought us together."
Winning does wonders for adversity good, certainly, and the Wolverines generally win with good defense, stout pitching and the long ball. Brownell also said that of all her years in this sport, this team is also her best in terms of chemistry.
Sierra has hit a state-leading 75 home runs, including two blasts by standout catcher Annette Merjano in the clinching game, finishing with seven RBI. Andrea Martin also had a three-run triple and Leesha Shoemaker had a three-run double in five in that contest.
In the 9-0 early win over Ohlone, State Co-Player of the Year Ashley Osier clubbed a three-run homer and a two-run blast. She has a state-leading 22 homers. Osier also pitched "two outstanding games" in this event, Brownell, including a complete-game, 1-hitter in the 9-0 win.
And catching every single inning of ever game this season after the opener has been Merjano.
"She's been outstanding, amazing," Brownell said. "Against San Mateo (on Saturday) she had four hits and six RBIs. They're all contributing."
- By Joe Davidson
Follow on Twitter: @sb_joedavidson