The Nipomo High softball team made history again Thursday afternoon.
With two outs in the top of the sixth inning, Courtney Cuzick scored on an infielder’s miscue to give the Titans a thrilling 1-0 road victory over Hemet in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.
Nipomo (19-9) will play in its first-ever semifinal game on Tuesday afternoon at La Cañada (24-4), the defending division champion that easily handled Mary Star of the Sea 7-0 on Thursday.
“There’s no question we’re in uncharted territory,” Nipomo coach Matt Paradis said, “but the girls are ready to seize the moment.
“My challenge to the girls today was to really enjoy the day and really savor that they’re in the quarterfinals. And now, they’re in the semifinals.”
Nipomo’s Gianna Abatti led off the sixth inning with a single, but she was later part of a double-play pop out by Hemet (19-9). Cuzick then got on base with a walk before stealing second. Saundra Renner hit a sharp grounder that was misplayed by the Hemet second baseman, who eventually picked up the ball but failed to throw out Renner at first base.
That allowed Cuzick to bolt from second to score the game’s lone run.
Cuzick once again had a solid outing in the circle as she finished with seven strikeouts, gave up three hits — two were infield singles — and allowed no walks. Outfielders Destiny Fryckman, Silvia De Leon and Ashley Cortez combined for nine putouts.
The Titans, who had never won a playoff game before this season, will face a La Cañada team led by pitcher Lauren Cox, who had 20 strikeouts and gave up one hit in the win against Mary Star of the Sea.
Nipomo will start preparing for the Spartans today.
“This is a very special accomplishment for this group of girls,” Paradis said, “and they’re very well deserving of this accomplishment.”
Arroyo Grande junior Eli Whittle ended his season with a 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) loss to Cate’s Blake MacKall in the round of 32 of the CIF-Southern Section individual tournament at the Whittier Narrows Tennis Center.
“This is the deepest individual run Eli has made in the postseason and I am honored to have a player of his caliber in our program,” Arroyo Grande coach Lori Hollister said.
Whittle finished with a 44-5 record. Besides winning his third PAC 7 title, the highlight of his season was winning the 16s USTA Division of the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament in April.