If Estancia (15-7) hadn’t clinched the league crown in its last regular-season game, it might have been left out of the playoffs, resulting in no local team making the postseason.
The Eagles enter as a freelance team and will play host to South Hills (9-14) of West Covina in a first-round game Friday.
Calvary Chapel, which finished runner-up and one game back of Estancia in league, missed out on the playoffs.
“We don’t know what would’ve happened if we finished tied in league because there were no at-large berths,” Rausch said. “I’m going to a league meeting and I’m sure Calvary Chapel isn’t going to be happy.”
Estancia is thrilled that it is back in the playoffs for the second straight year. Now it’s time to get out of the first round after losing to Orange, 3-1, last year.
Rausch, in his first year, said sophomore Nicole Marlborough will start against South Hills, the third-place team out of the San Antonio League. Marlborough picked up her first win of the year in the league clincher against Calvary Chapel, going six innings.
“She pitched well after we moved her from third base to pitcher, and we’re hoping to get another good performance out of her,” Rausch said. “[The Huskies] are very much like us and I know they have a losing record, but they probably saw better pitching than us.”
South Hills will most likely go with Victoria Bernhard (8-9). She’s struck out 74 in 107 1/3 innings.
Bernhard faces a challenge with the Eagles’ robust offense, led by Taylor West and Amy Hartwell.
“We’ve hit the ball well all year,” Rausch said. “I’m hoping we can continue to do so after we got together and bonded for 13 hours at Disneyland.”
DAVID CARRILLO PEÑALOZA may be reached at (714) 966-4612 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.