Tayana Mata was certain to bring her bat – and her power swing – to the yard Friday afternoon.
The Sierra College sophomore slugger had a three-run home run, a grand slam and nine RBIs to trigger a five-inning, 21-8 rout of Santa Rosa in a Northern California Super Regional softball opener in Fairfield.
A second baseman from Vista del Lago High School, Mata is second in the state with 17 home runs to go with 55 RBIs. And she wasn’t the only one swinging for the fences at Solano College. Alexis Johnson and Gabby Gonzalez belted three-run homers for the Wolverines, who scored 10 runs in the first inning.
Maddie Phelps improved to 10-0 as she earned the win in relief. She also got into the swing at the plate, collecting two hits and driving in three after entering the game with two plate appearances this season.
“Pretty amazing day,” veteran Sierra coach Darci Brownell said. “We’re playing well. I think we’ll keep eating the same thing we’ve been eating.”
Seeded third, Sierra (38-4) takes on No. 2 Solano (39-2) today at noon. Sierra seeks its sixth Super Regional title and sixth state final four appearance under Brownell. Sierra clobbered Santa Rosa 9-0, 16-1 and 8-2 in Big 8 Conference play. The Wolverines lost to Solano 4-3 in eight innings on Feb. 18.
Sequoias 4, Sierra 2 – Dylan Lee wasn’t at his dominant best, but he was effective enough to improve to 13-0 for the Giants of Visalia in Game 1 of a NorCal Super Regional in Rocklin. Lee allowed nine hits and both earned runs in seven innings, but he only walked one. Wyatt Champlin had a two-run double in the fourth inning for fifth-seeded Sequoias (30-9).
Kyle Lewis and Dustin Vaught each drove in a run for fourth-seeded Sierra (23-16), which has to beat the Giants twice to win the program’s fourth Super Regional since 2006 with coach Rob Willson. Sierra eliminated Sequoias last season.
“Dylan Lee is good, but we know our most important game of the season is Game 2,” Willson said. “I love our staff and our bullpen. We’ll be ready.”
Devon Golden starts today for Sierra, looking to improve his career record to 7-0 on Saturdays. Lee’s outing made him the winningest pitcher for a season in Sequoias history, bettering the mark shared by Jahseam George in 1999 and Kevin Bertrand in 2001.
“Lee’s done a nice job even though his back has been really tight in recent games,” said Jody Allen, in his 20th season as Sequoias coach. “We’ve played Sierra here so many times, it feels like a second home. Always great games.”