The Morro Bay High softball team squeaked into the playoffs and wasn’t expected to do much.
But the Pirates won a wildcard matchup in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs against Ramona Convent and then upset a Savanna team from Anaheim, the top-ranked team from the Orange League.
On Tuesday, they were hoping to topple another strong team in Montebello from the Los Angeles area, which tied for first in the Almont League.
But Morro Bay’s valiant comeback effort fell short as it lost 11-9 after trailing 10-3 entering the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Pirates (12-16, 6-6) finished fourth in the Los Padres League. Their playoff run was inspired by six seniors.
“This team hasn’t quit all year, and they didn’t quit in this one,” Morro Bay coach Roger Pelletier said. “Up until three years ago, our program hadn’t won a CIF game. This says a lot about our seniors who led us and the direction of our program.”
Senior shortstop Carli Watt, a .388 hitter, helped fuel the offense with a 2-for-3 game, smashing two doubles and driving in three runs, including a two-run knock over the left fielder’s head in her team’s six-run sixth inning.
Watt also caught a soft liner with one out and tagged second to force a runner to get out of a fifth inning, bases-loaded jam, with the Oilers up 5-1.
The Pirates started Marissa Tabares, who entered with a 2.57 earned run average, and kept battling through setbacks, including a two-out, two-strike single by Andrea Pena that scored two in the third to give Montebello a 4-1 lead.
Tabares, a junior, recorded perfect innings in the second and third, but the Oilers (16-11) rallied for a five-run fifth inning to take a seven-run lead.
Tabares went 2 for 3, to improve upon her .377 average to start the day, including a two-run double in the fifth to pull Morro Bay within 5-3.
In the circle, Tabares used an array of pitches — including her curve ball, rise ball and changeup — to give the Oilers different looks.
“We really pulled together today,” Tabares said.
“As teams, I thought we were pretty equal with them. We had an up-and-down season, but once we got to the playoffs, we really were playing well and we wanted it. We were trying our hardest.”
The Pirates left the bases loaded in the first after scoring one run, and left runners on first and second in the third after Madelynn Martinez hit a rocket liner with two outs that was caught by the Montebello centerfielder.
Soon after Morro Bay found itelf playing catch-up. Evelyn Hernandez, Montebello’s ace, had thrown 122 of the team’s 146 innings and tallied a 1.61 ERA before Tuesday’s game.
Morro Bay hitters had trouble squaring up her pitches until the sixth when they sent 12 hitters to the plate.
Many Pirates players left the field in tears, including Watt, who said her high school softball and sports experience in general has been “unbelievable” and she’ll have many great memories.
“This hits hard because a lot of us have played together for so many years,” Watt said. “And I’ve played other sports with some of these girls. We’ve all become close friends. We wanted to win so bad.”