For the second year in a row, the Madera South Stallions softball team hosted a Div. IV playoff game and, for the second year in a row, the Stallions advanced to the quarterfinals after a 5-4 victory over the Fowler Redcats in the first-round.
The seventh-seeded Stallions, who advanced to the semifinals last year, played second-seed Dos Palos on Thursday in the quarterfinals after a first-round win against the 10th seeded Redcats.
The Stallions cruised to the victory despite Fowler cutting the lead to one. Madera South pitcher A.J. Martinez was in control for most of the afternoon. She allowed four hits and struck out five. All four Fowler runs were unearned.
Mealeah Galvan drove in three runs for the Stallions while Erica Valdez went two-for-two with a double and scored a run.
Madera South started the scoring in the first inning. Savaanah Garcia drew a walk and went to second on Valdez’s bunt single when Fowler’s pitcher was slow to throw Valdez out at first. Valdez eventually stole second.
Two batters later, Galvan doubled to the right-centerfield gap to drive in Garcia and Valdez. Galvan came around to score on a wild pitch after Taylor Valerio reached on an error to move Galvan to third.
However, Fowler battled back with a one-out triple in the fourth. After a walk and stolen base, a passed ball allowed the first Redcat to score. A throwing error brought in the second Redcats’ run to cut Madera South’s lead to one.
The Stallions, who had runners in scoring position in every inning except the fifth, added two more runs in the fourth with the benefit of just one hit.
With one out, Aleecia Rosel was hit by a pitch. After another out, Garcia singled up the middle. Valdez was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Jessie Maciel drew a walk to force in Rosel. Galvan was the third batter to get hit by a pitch and she forced in Garcia for a 5-2 lead.
Fowler scored two more unearned runs in the sixth. With two outs, a walk and a single put runners at first and third. Back-to-back passed balls scored two Fowler runs to get the Redcats within one.
In the top of the seventh, Martinez allowed a lead-off single. A sacrifice moved the runner to second. Martinez got a liner to Garcia at shortstop, but a bunt single put the game-tying run at third and the go-ahead run at first.
Martinez got a groundout to Maciel, who threw across the diamond to Galvan at first for the final out of the inning.