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Showdown isn't about bragging rights
The players on the Mission Viejo softball team still recall the emotions they felt on the bus ride home last May, angered more than anything else by their lone hiccup of the 2014 campaign.
The Diablos held a perfect 21-0 record going into its last year’s regular-season finale against Pacifica. The Mariners knocked off the Diablos, 2-1, in an extra-innings thriller.
Now a year later, players and coaches agree the nonleague game between the county powers served its purpose, as both the Diablos and Mariners went on to win CIF championships - Mission Viejo in Division 2, Pacifica in Division 1- in the following weeks.
In hopes it will lead to another pair of lengthy postseason runs, top-ranked Mission Viejo and No. 3 Pacifica will battle Wednesday afternoon at Mission Viejo High. It will be the second consecutive season the two have scheduled a nonleague game to cap the regular season.
“I think we continue to play the Pacifica games because they prepare us for CIF, not just our team, but Pacifica’s team as well,” Diablos senior pitcher Taylor McQuillin said. “I think that it works really well for both sides because we get to see the competitiveness that we’re going to see in CIF.
“It’s all about going out and wanting to compete, knowing nothing is going to be easy down the stretch.”
Mission Viejo enters Wednesday’s showdown with a perfect 25-0 record. The Diablos have won 30 consecutive games dating back to last season’s encounter, and they’ve totaled 51 victories in their last 52 outings.
This will be the second meeting between Mission Viejo and Pacifica this season. The two squads faced off in the Best of the West Tournament championship on March 21. McQuillin tossed a no-hitter in the 2-0 victory, but shutting out the Mariners in such style a second consecutive time would appear to be highly unlikely.
Pacifica (19-4-1) is 12-0-1 in its last 13 games, sophomore pitcher Hannah Boos has progressed nicely during the season, and Faith Canfield and Dejah Mulipola pace one of the county’s most potent lineups.
The CIF-Southern Section will release its playoff brackets for all seven divisions next Monday.
In this week’s CIF-SS polls, Mission Viejo and Savanna were the only county teams holding the top spots in their respective divisions, and both appear to be locks for No. 1 seeds in the playoffs.
In Division 1, Pacifica and Los Alamitos sit just below Santiago of Corona as the second- and third-ranked teams. The Mariners would likely lock up a top-two seed with a win over Mission Viejo on Thursday.
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