East County Sports

D-2 Championship: Eagles upset Poway




By Adam Paul

LA JOLLA (5/28/22) – Late runs courtesy of clutch hitting by Kailey Sandoval (2-for-3, 2 R, 3 RBI) allowed the fourth-seeded Granite Hills Eagles to beat the second-seeded Poway Titans, 8-4, on claim the CIFSDS Division II softball championship held at UC San Diego on Saturday.

Poway, which routed the top-seeded Helix Highlanders 11-2, in Thursday’s winner’s bracket final to reach the championship game, got a dose of what the Eagles were all about in the top of the first inning after they scored the game’s first two runs.

Leadoff batter Sofia Mujica (3 R) who led the San Diego Section in home runs was pitched around and walked to start which was followed by a base hit by Kailey Sandoval. Both would advance on a sacrifice bunt by Audrey Smale (RUN, SB) and Mujica would come into score when Mya McGowan uncorked a wild pitch which was followed by an RBI single by Kamryn Flath (1-for-4, R).

However, the Titans would answer back in the bottom of the inning thanks to a three-run home run by Sophia Burmeister over the fence in dead-center and a two-out RBI single by Autumn Zusman to take a 4-2 lead.

Despite being down the Eagles were not deterred as they knew they had the ability to come back and in the top of the third inning they would take advantage of a Poway error.

Two outs in the inning and Flath at the plate she would hit a ground ball to second base that was misplayed allowing both Mujica and Smale to score to tie the game at 4-4.

With the score tied the Titans would threaten in the bottom of the fourth inning as Zusman led off by reaching on an error followed by a base hit to put runners on first and second and would load the bases with a one-out walk. However, calm as a cucumber Eagles pitcher Taylor Rose would get out of the jam as she got the next batter to pop up and would strike out the following batter to end the inning without any damage done.

The Eagles would break the tie in the top of the fifth inning when they took advantage of another Titans error on a ball hit by Mackenna Hines that would plate Sandoval to give them a 5-4 lead.

Another threat by the Titans in the bottom of the inning came the leadoff batter would walk followed by a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner. Once again though Rose would retire the next two batters as she got them both to pop out.

Clinging still to a slim 5-4 lead the Eagles knew they had to put some insurance runs on the board and in the top of the sixth inning their monies would pay off.

Leadoff hitter Chloe Knepp (1-for-3, R, 2B) drew a walk, she would advance to second after a one-out sacrifice bunt in which Breanna Diaz would be thrown out at first base. With two outs the batter Kayla Fox (RUN) would draw a four-pitch walk which brought up Mujica with runners on first and second.

Now, what would the Titans do in this situation? Would they pitch or walk her. The answer was Coach Bennet signaling for the intentional walk which loaded the bases and take their chances with Kailey Sandoval.

Well, the gamble failed as sophomore Sandoval would make the Titans pay as she roped a 1-2 count into right field for a bases-clearing triple that scored Knepp, Fox, and Mujica and give them an 8-4 lead.

“She had one job and she came thru in the clutch.” said Sofia Mujica when asked about Sandoval’s at-bat following her intentional walk.

The Eagles would threaten again in the top of the seventh inning when Chloe Knepp doubled and Taylor Rose (1-for-4) singled with two outs but this time the Titans would get out of the inning.

All the Eagles needed now was to get the final three outs and they would be champions. Eagles’ ace Rose would get the first batter to pop up for the first out. The next batter would walk and the batter after would fly out for the second out.

Needing only one out the Titans would extend the inning one more batter as they would get a two-out base hit before Rose would get Zusman to pop out to Sandoval at shortstop for the third and final out to win the game.

McGowan would be on the losing end and take the loss for the Titans as she allowed eight runs of which five were earned on five hits over seven innings of work. She also walked six and stuck out two on the day.

For the Eagles, Rose would pick up the win as she allowed four runs on seven hits over seven innings which saw her walk five and strike out two on the day.

“It is just an amazing and incredible feeling and feat as we were not supposed to be here in the championship,” said Mujica about winning the section title.

After winning their first-round contest the Eagles who lost to league foe Helix in the second round had to win three straight games in the loser’s bracket just to reach the finals. Interestingly enough the three contests would all be league foes in El Capitan, Valhalla, and Helix.

“Despite having our ups and downs during the season it was incredible to see how the girls really came together to accomplish what we just did and for that, I am proud of them.” said first-year head coach Michelle Miller.

For Granite Hills, it was their third trip to the CIF Section Finals as they won the 2008 D-1 championship, finished as runners-up in 2015, and now have a new piece of hardware to add to the trophy case with a 2022 D-II championship.


Granite (19-12-1)…. .2202 013 0 – 4 5 2
Poway (20-11-1)……  400 000 0 – 2 7 2


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