Gregori and Merced are eliminated by Roseville in Division I softball playoffs

All season, the Gregori and Merced High School softball teams have been able to come up with clutch hits.

That didn’t happen Monday, and the Jaguars and Bears saw their seasons come to an end.

Roseville knocked out both Stanislaus District teams from the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs at the Sacramento Softball Complex. Roseville defeated Gregori (20-5) 5-3 and then handed Merced a 3-2 loss to advance to another losers’ bracket game today.

“We just couldn’t get the hits when we needed them,” said Merced coach Bart McAfee. “We had runners on base; we just didn’t get the big hit.”

Gregori had runners on base all afternoon against Roseville starter Naomi Monahan but stranded eight.

Gregori finally capitalized in the third inning after loading the bases with no outs. Nicole Stewart hit a grounder to shortstop to plate Nikki Alexander. Mehana Johns added an RBI single to pull Gregori even at 2-2.

“We were never able to get that big hit to bust it open,” Gregori coach Alannah Johns said. “I’m still happy. It was a good game. If we’re going to have to lose, I don’t mind losing like that.”

The Jaguars took the lead in the top of the fifth when Melanie Menor doubled to start the frame and Stewart knocked her in with a single.

Roseville (24-5) answered right back as Maddy Butcoff and Taylor Brewster-McDowell each reached on singles to start the bottom of the fifth. Monahan then singled in Butcoff to tie the score at 3-3. Brittany Whitten then hit a fly ball to right. Mehana Johns fired home, but Brewster-McDowell escaped a rundown and was able to score to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.

“That was huge,” said Roseville coach Nicole Wallace. “Anybody that watches softball knows how big momentum is, and when a game is back and forth like that, that’s a game everyone wants to be in.”

The Jaguars stranded two runners in the sixth, and a leadoff walk in the seventh was erased with a double play.

“It’s a bummer that we lost, but it was a great season,” Alannah Johns said. “I can’t be disappointed. We lost to a good team. You always want to keep going, but everyone’s season has to end sometime.”

Merced also had to come to grips with the end of its season.

The Bears (24-4-1) could manage only three hits in a 3-0 loss to Rocklin as Maddie Wuelfing carved her way through the Merced lineup. Jaclyn Amader provided the big blow for the Thunder (22-6) with a two-run homer off of Madilyn Nickles in the third inning.

Merced finally got a big hit in the second game against Roseville when Chelsea Evans delivered a two-run single to tie the score 2-2 in the fifth.

The Tigers regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Katie Edgar sliced a line drive to left that skipped past Mo Collins and allowed Aly Manzo to score from first and give Roseville a 3-2 lead.

Merced moved the tying run to second in the top of the seventh, but Monahan got Nickles to fly out to left to finish her second complete-game victory of the day.

“It sucks,” Evans said. “I know that we played well, and we went down fighting. We wanted to keep playing.”