The playoff jitterbug bothered the Buena High softball team in the early innings of the Bulldogs' Southern Section semifinal playoff game against St. Joseph of Lakewood on Tuesday.
But St. Joseph pitcher Lisa Fernandez was finally stung by Buena hitting in the top of the ninth inning and the Bulldogs went on to take a 1-0 victory and move into the 4-A championship game for the first time.
Buena sophomore Kim Maher scored from third on an error for the game's only run after she reached base on a one-out walk, stole second and advanced to third on a hard infield chopper by Rustie Stevens.
"I think the first couple of innings, we were a little jittery," Stevens said. "It was a tough game. The outcome could have gone either way until that last inning.
"But when we got a couple of hits, we knew we were going to be OK and everybody felt pretty confident. I think, coming in, we felt like this wasn't going to be our last game."
Thanks to Buena's one run, it wasn't.
The Bulldogs, who improved to 26-2-1, will play St. Paul in the title game at 8 p.m. Saturday at Mayfair Park.
The Bulldogs advanced on the strength of a three-hitter by senior right-hander Tamara Evans, who will attend the University of Texas-Arlington next season on a softball scholarship.
Evans (15-2) struck out 11 and did not walk a batter. Her eighth shutout of the season was more than enough to neutralize a 14-strikeout performance by Fernandez.
"We kind of felt it was just a matter of time," she said. "I had tremendous confidence in my teammates."
Stevens (2 for 4), along with Kelly Higgins and Audra Olive (one hit each) came through for Evans on offense.
Now, the Bulldogs hope to make all the right moves when they play in their first title game.
"It's made our season to get this far," Olive said.
"I guarantee everybody will be up for that game. It seems like a perfect way to end the season."
St. Joseph (Santa Maria) 2, La Reina 0--The Regents fell victim to St. Joseph right-hander Julie Rome, who pitched a no-hitter and struck out a season-high 17 batters in a Southern Section 1-A semifinal playoff loss at Thousand Oaks Community Center.
Sophomore right-hander Sherri Sisco threw a four-hitter and struck out five for La Reina (19-6), but that effort was wasted as St. Joseph (22-8) scored two unearned runs in the sixth inning.