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Yuba College softball clinches playoff spot
49ers earn 20th win
It may have gone down as a double-header split, but that didn't stop Yuba College's softball team from cracking open the bubbly to do a little bit of celebrating.
After winning the second game of a twinbill against first-place Solano on Tuesday afternoon, the 49ers not only wrapped up their third ever postseason berth, they reached a milestone in the process by winning 20 games for just the fourth time in program history.
A sweep of the doubleheader would've given Yuba a share of the Bay Valley Conference title with the Falcons, but that went out the window following a 3-1 loss in the opener.
Yuba recorded just one hit in that game-one loss, but the Niners quickly bounced back with a solid pitching performance by Rachel Quinn to earn a 2-0 victory in game two to salvage the split.
They then popped open a few bottles of Martinelli's sparkling apple cider and celebrated the playoff berth as well as the milestone victory.
"It definitely feels good," said Yuba coach Stephanie Reynolds, who will guide the 49ers into the playoffs for the second time in her 11 years leading the program. "We played both games well and I'm happy how they've come together as a team."
Yuba (20-13, 13-3) had a tough time in the first game as Solano starting pitcher Hannah Wilbur struck out 12 to record the win.
Colusa High product Rylee Kampf had the lone hit for the 49ers with an infield single in the sixth inning. Yuba's only run came in the fifth when Live Oak alum Lyndsey Odom-Sizemore walked and scored on a throwing error.
The loss eliminated the Niners' chances for a conference championship, but they came out strong in the second game while riding the bat and right arm of Quinn to victory.
Quinn allowed six hits and struck out two in the complete-game effort and helped her own cause by belting an RBI triple in the bottom of the third inning. Kampf singled and scored on a base hit by Lindhurst product Dylanne Brown to open the scoring in that game.
The rest of the contest belonged to the 49ers' defense, which made several spectacular plays including a throw out by Sizemore from deep in the hole at short that ended the ballgame. She led Yuba by going 2 for 3 with a double.
Not to be overlooked was the play of Brown behind the plate. Besides putting down the signs and catching Quinn's shutout, the sophomore also sprung out from the crouch and made two diving catches in foul territory.
"We have a good battery, and it's nice to have a pitcher who throws strikes and a strong defense behind her," Reynolds said. "I feel confident whenever the ball is hit. We make plays and that's a blast.
"When you have a pitcher and a catcher who have good chemistry it makes a world of difference, and they definitely have good chemistry."
It's been quite the turnaround for Yuba, which finished last season with a 7-27 record. This year they regrouped with a ton of local talent and will now prepare for the playoffs, joining the 1998 and 2009 teams as the only ones to do so.
"We're just really excited," Quinn said. "A lot of us have known each other a while. Most of us played Little League with or against each other, so it's pretty cool."
Past teams which have won 20-plus games were squads from 1998 (22-16), 2002 (24-14) and 2007 (21-23).
Mendocino 5, Yuba 0
Ethan McGill, Tyler Updike and Zack Kalish each went 2 for 4 for the 49ers, but it wasn't enough in a BVC loss at Gary Engelken Field.
Ivan Lamas got into trouble early and was relieved by Josh Paige, who helped stop the bleeding in five innings of work.
With the loss, the 49ers slipped to 6-13 in conference and 10-22 overall.
CONTACT Andy Arrenquin at aarrenquin@appealdemocrat. com or 749-4790. Find him on Facebook at advarsitysports or on Twitter at @ADaarrenquin