Casa Roble's Kaitlyn Garcia is used to being overshadowed.
She's a 5-foot-2 pitcher, which isn't exactly a college recruiter's dream.
But her Casa Roble coaches and teammates think the senior is pretty big stuff.
She showed why, again, in Wednesday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II softball championship game against rival Christian Brothers at the Sacramento Softball Complex.
Despite giving up two runs in the top of the first, Garcia settled down and battled Falcons ace Haley Snyder pitch for pitch the rest of the way.
Then in the seventh, Garcia helped Casa Roble rally for a 4-3 win with a bases-loaded, walk-off single that delivered the Rams their third section championship in four years.
"She has been our workhorse, pitching every inning for us," said Casa Roble coach Ken Kenobbie. "But sometimes her hitting gets overshadowed. She's just a great player."
Had the Rams lost, they would have had to play a second game, something Garcia admitted she wanted to avoid. She's pitched every inning for the Rams for three seasons.
So when Casa Roble entered the bottom of the seventh down 3-2, she was leading the cheers.
"I'm tired," Garcia said. "I told my teammates, 'I didn't know what I'd do if we had to play two.' "
Kaitlyn Fogal led off the seventh with a double to center, sliding under the tag. One out later, Ali Aguilar's fly ball to center was dropped, allowing the tying run to score. McKenzie Kenobbie then reached on an error, and Krystal Aubert battled Snyder for a walk, setting up Garcia's game-winning grounder up the middle.
Unlike teammates Aguilar and Aubert both of whom will play at Washington Garcia is still chasing a scholarship. She knows she isn't as imposing as the likes of the 5-11 Snyder, one of the section's best who already has verbally committed to Stanford. Garcia likely is headed to Sierra College if she doesn't land a scholarship playing ASA in the summer.
But she has a good sense of humor about it.
"I'd love to be that tall," a smiling Garcia said of Snyder, who lives in Orangevale.
Garcia scattered seven hits, walked three and hit a batter.
"Kaitlyn's a very intelligent pitcher," Kenobbie said. "She throws well to spots, and she's not going to give in. If you hit her, she just moves on to the next batter."
Snyder deserved a better fate, even though she wasn't as sharp as she was in earlier rounds. Monday, she struck out 18 against Vanden, and Tuesday, she fanned 15 in a 10-inning win over Benicia.
The right-hander allowed six hits, walked four and struck out eight. She also drove in two runs with a hit in the first, though she was called out for coach's interference.
She also factored in the Falcons' third run in the fifth when the Casa Roble right fielder dropped her fly ball, allowing a run to score.
Snyder became the first area pitcher to strike out more than 300 batters (312) in a season since the pitching circle was moved from 40 to 43 feet four years ago.
After losing its first game of the season to Pleasant Grove on Monday and falling out of the MaxPreps.com national top 25, Vintage came back with a vengeance against the Eagles.
With a large and boisterous rooting section cheering them on, the Crushers twice walloped the Eagles. They had 15 hits in a 14-2 first-game victory, then hammered out 17 hits in a 14-7 second-game win to finish the season 34-1.
In the second game, Pleasant Grove took a brief 7-6 lead in the fifth on Amber Murray's second home run of the game and a two-run, pinch-hit double by Amy Hutchinson.
But Vintage scored two runs in the top of the sixth and six more in the seventh.
The loss snapped the Elk Grove Unified School District's seven-year reign as home to the D-I champion.
Pioneer beat Antelope twice for its second softball title and first in D-III.
In the first game, the Patriots scored five runs in the second inning on doubles by Angelica Navarro, Tori Bellin and Amaray Bair to beat the Titans 5-3.
In the second game, Erin Lipelt and Navarro hit back-to-back home runs in a four-run sixth inning as Pioneer rallied for a 9-6 win.
Because of concerns about poor behavior by several spectators, tournament officials asked the teams to leave the complex separately after the game.
Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.