By Malaya Street
The Jags finish 7th in the state after an amazing roller coaster season.
With a 22-15 record in the regular season, placing 5th in the Coast Conference, and not being ranked within the top 20 teams, the San José City College Jags were not expected to make it past the first round of playoffs.
The Jags lost the first playoff game against Sacramento City College but bounced back by winning the next two games in a best-of-three series. Their momentum carried into Super Regionals, where the Jags swept their rival West Valley College by allowing them to score only one run in two games.
The Jags became one of the top 8 teams in the State and was ranked third in NorCal. Head Coach Deborah Huntze-Rooney, in her 32nd season, led the Jags to their third consecutive appearance at the state tournament.
The Jags drove to Mt. San Antonio College, the state tournament site. Their first game was against the Mt. San Antonio College Mounties, where they lost 8-0 in five innings. The Jags had only three hits by Melissa Felix and Malia Venegas, and their defense made three errors. Of the eight runs the Mounties scored during the third inning, only one run was earned.
The Jags had scoring opportunities in the first three innings with a leadoff double by Felix in the first inning, bases loaded in the second inning, and the Mounties' made fielding errors in the third inning. The Jags could not execute, which allowed the Mounties to make the first and final punch.
The State tournament was formatted where teams had to lose two games to get knocked out, so the Jags had one more chance to continue playing. In the elimination game, the Jags played the Sierra College Wolverines.
In the first inning, the Wolverines added the first run on the board after a runner on third scored from a passed ball. The Wolverines responded with an RBI single down the right-field line to get the 2-1 lead. The Jags battled back in the fifth inning, starting with Felix hitting a soft flyball into shallow center field and Alaina Valdez advancing Felix to second. Jade Henry lined the ball over the second baseman and knocked in Felix to tie the game 2-2. The Jags tied the game with Deja Jimenez smashing a home run over center field.
It was a pitchers' duel for the rest of the game, and both defenses kept it clean. The Wolverines had an opportunity to win the game in the seventh inning with runners on first and second, but Felix made a diving play in center, and Valdez shut down the third out with a groundball to herself. In the top of the 10th inning, with Henry on first, the Jags were hitting hard line drives to the outfield but could not find real estate to score Henry.
The Wolverines followed with a runner on second and hit a walk-off double over the left fielder to win the game 3-2. The Jags lost their final chance, ending their 2022-2023 season.
As gut-wrenching as this 10-inning loss was to the Jags, making it to State for their third consecutive year was already a significant accomplishment for their season. In 44 games, the Jags went 26-18, averaged a .262 batting average, scored 176 runs, averaged a .335 on-base percentage, averaged .342 slugging percentage, and hit nine home runs.
At the end of the regular season, key players were highlighted for their achievements. Alaina Valdez was Coast pitcher of the year, Pitcher All-American, and All-State. Melissa Felix earned All-State and 1st Team All-Conference. Jade Henry and Karissa Smith were awarded 2nd Team All-Conference. Finally, Malia Venegas and Deja Jimenez earned Honorable Mentions.
As the 2022-2023 season ends, the Jags will say goodbye to their 10 sophomores. Next year, the Jags will have a young and brand new team, but the seven returners like Venegas, Smith, and Jimenez will step up to be the leaders. Coach Deborah Huntze-Rooney will return for her 33rd season with SJCC.