With two of the county's best pitchers facing each other, Pacifica softball Coach Rob Weil figured his team's game against Mater Dei in the Southern Section Division 5-A quarterfinals Thursday would probably come down to an error.
He was right on target.
Mater Dei, the top-seeded team in the division, scored in the top of the 11th inning on an error and held on for a 1-0 victory at Pacifica to advance to the semifinals Tuesday against Simi Valley.
The Monarchs (19-1-1) used a marvelous pitching performance by right-hander Terry Kobata (11-0) and a throwing error by Pacifica second baseman Valerie Downen to get the victory.
After neither team managed to generate much offense against Kobata or Pacifica right-hander Jennifer Surface for most of the game, the Monarchs rallied for the winning run with one out in the 11th.
Leadoff batter Candace Kollen reached on an infield hit and, after Marie O'Beck flied out to center, Jennifer Clark singled to the hole at shortstop. Jennifer Cline followed with a grounder to Downen, who tried to force Clark at second but made a bad toss to shortstop Kris Carlson, allowing Kollen to score from second.
"I told my team it would be (decided) by the first team to make a mistake," Weil said.
The run broke a string of 66 consecutive scoreless innings pitched by Surface, who Tuesday worked the final six innings of a complete-game, 1-0 victory over Cerritos in a game that took 26 innings and two days to complete. The first-round game had started last Thursday.
Kobata, Mater Dei's pitching ace, was in command against the Mariners, who finished the season with a 20-6-1 record. She carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning, when Downen broke it up with a one-out bunt single, and didn't allow another hit the rest of the way to secure her ninth consecutive shutout. The senior struck out 22 and issued only one walk, in the second inning to Susan Denny.
"She's just so tough. The kids are so confident when she's out there pitching," Mater Dei Coach Cathy Quesnell said of Kobata.
Surface, a senior who led the county in strikeouts this season with 230, wasn't as overpowering against the Monarchs. But she held them scoreless with good support from the Pacifica defense until the crucial play in the final inning. She worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth by getting O'Beck to fly out to right and Clark to ground out.
Quesnell, who is resigning as Mater Dei's coach after her team's last playoff game, felt the Monarchs were in for a tough one against Pacifica.
"I woke up this morning and I had a different kind of feeling, like it wasn't going to be that easy," Quesnell said.