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CCS softball: St. Francis advances to Open semifinals

SAN JOSE — One year after making a deep run in the Central Coast Section Open Division softball playoffs, St. Francis is determined to do so again — this time with a happier ending.
“After last year, we’re so hungry,” pitcher Jordan Schuring said. “We want this so badly. We know we could have won last year. Last year could have been our year.But this year we’re ready to take it.”
Schuring and her teammates took the first step Saturday, capitalizing on numerous errors to topple one of their league rivals, Valley Christian, 6-1 at Willow Glen High.
St. Francis, seeded second, advances to the semifinals next week.
Seventh seed Valley Christian watched its season — one highlighted by West Catholic Athletic League regular-season and postseason tournament championships — come to a tearful conclusion.
“Definitely not what we would have expected going in,” said Valley Christian coach Rigo Gutierrez, whose team split with St. Francis in two previous meetings. “In hindsight, I think the situation or maybe the intensity of the game got the better of a couple of the girls. But that’s a learning experience and what we talked to them about.
“Life’s not always going to be easy and how we handle those things is what separates the winners and the losers.”
St. Francis did what it set out to do Saturday. The Lancers put the ball in play and got strong pitching from Schurring.
Valley Christian (19-7) wasn’t quite so fortunate. The Warriors committed seven errors and also surrendered a run on a wild pitch.
St. Francis scored twice in the third inning and once in the fifth before putting the score out of reach with three in the sixth. The big blast, a two-run double by Hannah Damore off the mammoth fence in left field, accounted for the final margin as the Lancers improved to 21-6 on the season.
“They played great today,” St. Francis coach Mike Oakland said about his players. “They put pressure on the defense and Jordan pitched lights out and we did a great job defensively.”
Oakland noted that the experiences from the season might have helped.
“We played a really good schedule,” he said. “Through the ups and downs, we had to fight and grind and claw. It hasn’t been easy. I think it all helps us in the end because we’ve played a lot of really tough teams, maybe it helps us be a little bit more comfortable in these settings.”
Schurrng, who knows many of the Valley Christian players through travel ball, said she needed to be at her best even as the lead widened.
“It calmed me down a little bit,” she said. “But I knew with those girls that they’re all very good players and I could never sit back on my heels and take one pitch off. I knew I had to be there every single pitch of the game.”
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In the end, Schuring got what she wanted — for now.
“I wanted this so bad,” she said. “I know a lot of girls on that team. I know the coaches. I just wanted to win. That was my whole mentality going into the game.”

Final in CCS Open softball: St. Francis 6, Valley Christian 1 | @sfhsathletics @VCHSAthletics @VytasMazeika @JensenPhil @coachnatesmith @HaroldAbend pic.twitter.com/LVrlUEfmfk
— Darren Sabedra (@DarrenSabedra) May 19, 2018

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