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San Marcos Gets a Fourth Shot at Buena in CIF Division 4 Softball Final

Hailee Rios leads the San Marcos softball team into the CIF-SS Division 4 final against Channel League rival Buena. Click to view larger
Hailee Rios leads the San Marcos softball team into the CIF-SS Division 4 final against Channel League rival Buena. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk file phto)

Will the fourth time be the charm for the San Marcos softball team?

The Royals face Channel League champion and undefeated Buena in the CiF-SS Division 4 championship game on Friday at 12:30 p.m., at Barber Park in Irvine, looking for their first win against the Bulldogs.

Buena won all three league meetings this season, 6-0. 4-1 and 9-2. In fact, San Marcos (23-7) hasn’t beaten the Bulldogs in the four years Hailee Rios has played on the varsity.

But Rios is confident her teammates can get the job done against the 26-0-1 Bulldogs.

“The last couple of times we were hitting more off their pitcher, so I think our bats will be on, and we’re hitting really well,” said Rios. Also, “they didn’t really see me pitch. I had a hurt arm during the season when I was pitching against them.”

The Fresno State-bound Rios is at full strength. Her pitching and hitting has led the Royals to four playoff wins, three of them on the road.

Rios sets the tone for the Royals.

“Aside from the fact that Hailee can dominate the circle as a pitcher and at the plate (.500 hitter with power), she has a tremendous work ethic and is a great leader,” San Marcos coach Jeff Swann said. “She leads by example and in getting her teammates to be their best.  Her teammates see how she attacks drills and they follow her lead, in that way she helps to make the entire team better.”

The ever-humble Rios said it would be a thrill to see her teammates finally beat the Bulldogs

“I think it would be great for them to see a victory over Buena. It’s been kind of a tough competitor, and the girls are very driven to beat them,” she said.

Swann said the game simply comes down to scoring more runs than Buena. And he's confident his Royals can do it.

“We feel we hit their pitching better each time we faced them and executed better on offense and defense since we played them,” he said. So, I like our chances. We just need to play good, solid fundamental softball.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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