Village News Reporter
The 2022 Fallbrook High School softball season ended May 31 when the Warriors lost a first-round state playoff game at Nipomo High School.
“My girls left everything they had on that dirt. They’ve given me more than any coach could ask for,” said Fallbrook coach Lisa Stehle.
The state playoffs consisted of Southern California and Northern California regional playoffs and regional championships. Nipomo was seeded fourth in the Southern California regional, and the Titans followed their 9-8 victory over Fallbrook with a 5-3 win over top-seeded Capistrano Valley Christian before second-seeded Caruthers scored a run in the bottom of the seventh for a 6-5 victory over Nipomo in the championship game. Caruthers High School is in the Fresno County town of Caruthers while Nipomo is a town in San Luis Obispo County.
Fallbrook won the CIF San Diego Section Division V championship to earn entry into the state playoffs. Fallbrook was seeded fifth in the Southern California region, giving the Warriors a first-round game at Nipomo.
Fallbrook seniors Mel Becerra, Baylee Howley, and Lexi Perez closed out their high school careers in the state playoff game. Perez and Howley each had a single and a walk in four plate appearances apiece, and each stole one base. Perez scored three of the Warriors’ runs and Howley crossed the plate twice. Becerra reached base on a fielder’s choice but had no hits in four at-bats. Howley, who was Fallbrook’s catcher, also threw out a Nipomo runner trying to steal.
Fallbrook’s other three runs were scored by sophomore Berlin Broussard, sophomore Valerie Hernandez and freshman Alexa Fehling. Hernandez had a single and a triple, drove in three runs, and stole a base. Broussard had a single. Fehling scored as a pinch runner and did not come to the plate.
Fallbrook had a total of seven hits against the Titans with freshman Hana Winton belting a double and sophomore Paige Abeyta singling. Winton also walked twice and drove in three runs, and as Fallbrook’s starting pitcher she struck out 10 Nipomo batters in her six innings on the mound. Abeyta had one run batted in. Sacrifice bunts were executed by sophomore Larissa Ramirez and freshman Cherish Stevens.
“I watched those girls play with everything they had, and I couldn’t be prouder,” Stehle said.
The Warriors’ one-run loss may have been heartbreaking to Stehle and her players, but the other three Southern California schools which were defeated in the first round lost by 15-8, 14-0, and 20-2 margins.
The state playoff loss gave Fallbrook a final season record of 12-15. The Warriors were 2-8 in Valley League games.