East County Sports

Steele Canyon slips in CIF So.Cal. Semifinals

Steele Canyon sophomore Marina Gonzalez homers / Photo courtesy of Russell Solimine

CIF-Southern California Championships
Division 3 – Semifinals


By Tom Ronco
Special to East County Sports

RANCHO SAN DIEGO – The Steele Canyon Cougars softball team lead their 2024 CIF-State So Cal Softball Division III Championship Playoff Tournament semifinal game against the Imperial Tigers until the top sixth inning on Thursday (May 30) before losing 8-4.

The CIF-State Division III second-seeded Cougars went into the sixth inning leading 4-3 and needing six outs to move on to the Championship game.

However, the third-seeded Tigers loaded the bases against Steele Canyon sophomore pitcher Marina Gonzalez and tied the scored at 4-4 on a single by Imperial’s Jayden Rutledge.

A scoreless seventh inning followed in which both teams left runners in scoring position and Gonzalez and Imperial hurler Rutledge each pitched out of trouble.

The deadlock was not to last, however, as Imperial exploded for four runs in the top of the eight inning highlighted a bases-loaded, bases-clearing triple by Clarissa Davila into the right-center field gap.

The rally capped a game-long come-back by the Tigers after they fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning when Steele Canyon lead-off hitter senior Kamea Seunarine lead off the game with a home run over the center-field fence.

Imperial would tie the game at 1-1 in the top of the second inning but Steele Canyon’s senior Lauren Becker walked to lead off the bottom of the third inning and Gonzalez followed with a booming home run.

Leading 3-1, Steele Canyon extended their lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning on an unearned run to go up 4-1, however over the last four innings the Cougars would not score again,.

For the 2024 CIF-San Diego Section Division I runner-up Cougars (23-9-1), Gonzalez pitched most of the game with traffic on the base-paths, giving up thirteen hits and five walks while striking out three and stranding twelve Imperial runners.

Offensively for Steele Canyon, in addition to the two home runs, sophomore Tevia Cohen, junior Hailey Trujillo and Gonzalez had two hits each.

Imperial’s Rutledge surrendered nine hits and a walk, striking out six while leaving nine Cougars on the bases.

The newly crowned 2024 CIF Division II champion Imperial Tiger (29-3-1) will now advanced to the CIF-State So Cal Softball Division III Tournament Championship game on Saturday afternoon.

In the championship game, the Tigers will face Thursday’s other semi-final winner, the CIF-SDS 2024 Division I champion and CIF-State Division III top-seeded Otay Ranch High Mustangs who defeated Bakersfield Christian by a score of 6-1.

On Saturday, the championship game will be hosted by higher seeded Otay Ranch at 2 p.m. in Chula Vista.

Gonzales also pitchers for the Cougars / Photo courtesy of Russell Solimine