El Capitan players savor their win over Santana, clinching the first softball title in school history.
On the day that El Capitan junior Delanie Gourley passed the 1,000-strikeout milestone for her prep career, the Vaqueros left-hander celebrated a more important number.
Gourley cheered her school’s first softball championship after the Vaqueros beat Santana 4-1 in the San Diego Section Division III final at UC San Diego on Saturday.
“The strikeouts are incredible, but it was our team effort that was amazing,” said Gourley, who pitched a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts. “This is the best feeling ever, especially for our seniors. I was pumped (from the start), and we were all playing with the same amount of adrenaline.”
Gourley ended the game with her 1,003rd career strikeout to give the third-seeded Vaqueros (23-9) their third victory in four meetings this season over top-seeded Santana (28-7), their East County rival.
“Obviously, we have a good pitcher, but everyone took turns being a hero this season,” El Capitan coach Joe Cota said. “Over the last few weeks, our girls just started believing in themselves, and it’s been a great ride.”
The Vaqueros, who made their school’s first final appearance since 1987, built a 4-1 lead in the second inning with a three-run rally highlighted by CJ Merrill’s two-run triple.
“I’d been in a slump, but I just believed in myself,” said Merrill, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. “I took a deep breath, and I just hit the ball as far as I could.”
Santana played in its fourth final in five years.