Kevin Grayson had no idea.
The coach of the Lincoln softball team and his pitcher and catcher had no clue what the score was in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s San Francisco Section semifinal against Washington at Rossi Field, onlythe vague idea that they were ahead. And as the second-seeded Eagles battled back from a six-run deficit to bring the tying run to the plate, perhaps it was better that way.
Leong, a sophomore pitcher, speared a sharp grounder up the middle and tossed the ball to Annabel Hertz at first, the final out in the Mustangs’ 9-7 win. Lincoln (14-3) advances to face top-seeded Lowell in Friday’s 3:30 p.m. final at Lang Field.
“What was the final score? I don’t even know right now,” Grayson said 15 minutes after it ended. “I was about to collapse as it was. I didn’t want to know until it was over.”
Saint, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, said that while she was fuzzy on the specifics, she knew Washington was gaining ground.
“I think we all were so wrapped up in the game, we weren’t going to stop until it was over and we won,” the junior catcher said. “And when Karena grabbed that ball, the feeling of relief was ridiculous.”
That the game was decided on a solid defensive play seemed fitting. Lincoln — which was outhit 12-8 by the Eagles — relied on patient and timely hitting and clutch defense to win the rubber match between teams that split their previous two matchups this season.
Right fielder Chioma Amaechi made a nice running catch to strand two runners to end the third inning and third baseman Krislyn Li made two nice plays to cut down a Washingtonrally in the fourth. In the seventh, after Washington had cut a 9-3 deficit to 9-6 with just one out, shortstop Kelly Huey ranged far behind second base to snuff the start of another rally.
“When the defense is making plays like that, it gives me all the confidence in the world,” Leong said. “And we’ve been playing tight ‘D’ all season.”
Amaechi also had an RBI single for Lincoln, which used its patience at the plate to draw four walks and a hit batter in a four-run third. Second baseman Tammy Visser was 3-for-4 with two home runs for Washington (14-3).
Senior third baseman Sylvia Tam went 3-for-4 with six RBIs as the Cardinals (16-1) overcame an early deficit to knock off the Cobras (11-7) in a San Francisco Section semifinal at Parkside.
(2-for-4) and Alina Werth (2-for-4) also added multiple hits for top-seeded Lowell. The Cardinals trailed 4-0 after the top of the first inning, but rebounded to score five in their half of the frame, then erupted for 11 runs in the bottom of the second.
“My girls can hit,” said Lowell coach Sasha Ray, whose team beat Lincoln 10-7 in last year’s final. “And my seniors stepped up today. They had no choice.”
Lincoln 104 102 1 — 9 8 1
Washington 002 001 4 — 7 12 1
ISA 405 00 — 9 8 5
Lowell 5(11)2 1x — 19 16 2
Luisa Sausedo and Nancy Alvarado. Samia Zuber, Alina Werth (3) and Werth, Kristina Tran (3).W—Werth. L—Sausedo. Leading hitters: Zuber (L) 4×4, Sylvia Tam (L) 3×4, Rita Belilovskaya (L) 2×4, Rubye Chu (L) 2×4, Werth (L) 2×4, HR—Chu.
San Francisco Section final
WHO: Lincoln (14-3) vs. Lowell (16-1)
WHEN: Friday, 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Lang Field