The Diablo Valley softball team is living proof that great pitching, strong defense and clutch hitting is exceedingly tough to beat … on any diamond.
The Vikings (12-1-1), riding the arm of sophomore Albany High graduate Nicole Nordahl, the state leader in wins with 12 and in strikeouts with 109, keep finding ways to win.
Ranked No. 9 in the state and fourth in Northern California, DVC will host Yuba (11 a.m.) and Feather River ( 3 p.m.) on Tuesday.
Last week, the Vikings finally solved the riddle that was their season-opener against Ohlone, which was suspended because of darkness with the score tied on Feb. 3.
The teams completed the contest on Feb. 22, beginning in the eighth inning, and DVC prevailed 4-3 in 14 innings on a clutch RBI single by Concord graduate Kaitlyn VanMotman. Then the Vikings and Renegades, who seemed joined at the hip, followed by playing to a 6-6 tie in their scheduled game that day, in which both teams had 10 hits.
In the 6-6 draw, Bailey Simmons was 2 for 4 with a home run and had two RBIs. Mallory Barnard also had two RBIs, and VanMotman tacked on two more hits.
Barnard leads the Vikings in hits with 16, in doubles with five and in batting average at .410. Cynthia Duenas tops the starters with a slugging percentage of .590. Simmons has a team-best 11 RBIs.
"We're getting great pitching from Nicole and playing really good defense, and we're relying on somebody to come up with a clutch hit when we need one," DVC coach Dennis Luquet said.
The Vikings (8-4) swept a home-and-home series against district-rival Contra Costa 7-6, 6-2, amassing 13 hits in each victory.
In the 6-2 win, starter Austin Cannedy (2-2) worked six solid innings, allowing four hits and one earned run, with seven strikeouts and four walks. Six Vikings had two hits apiece: John Anthon, Adam Remotto, Atticus Soane, Bradley Gosiengfiao, Zac Guardino (two RBIs) and Andres Rodriguez.
In the 7-6 win, Remotto, the clean-up hitter, was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBIs, and Josh Stevens and Ryan Tom were both 3 for 4 with a run scored.
Reliever Stephen Hantos (3-0) surrendered four hits and one run, striking out six and walking one over 4 innings. Riley Moore worked a spotless ninth to get the save.
Fresh off an exhilarating win in overtime over Contra Costa, the DVC women's team (21-9) will host Sacramento City (22-8) in Round 3 of the CCCAA Northern regional playoffs on Wednesday.
The Panthers are no picnic, especially from 3-point range.
Sac City, the No. 5 seed, beat No. 12 Chabot 72-65 in its playoff opener, converting 14 of 24 on 3-point attempts. Jasmine Bernardo was 7 for 11 on threes, accounting for all 21 of her points. The Panthers beat the Vikings twice in Big 8 play, including a 67-58 win on Feb. 11 when Sac City made 13 3-pointers, 12 more than DVC.
"Sac City, they shoot the ball so doggone well," Vaughn said. "They're a bunch of unassuming kids. … We played them last time and they outscored us 39-3 from the 3-point line."
The Vikings staved off No. 13 Contra Costa 82-80 Friday night. Vaughn described the game as the most "intense, gut-wrenching" contest he's experienced as a community college coach.
Track and field
The DVC men's sprinters sizzled at the NorCal Preview Meet at Chabot, going 1-2-3 overall in the 100 meters. Las Lomas graduate Latrell Thayer was first in a time of 11.03 seconds, Latrell Thayer (Academy Arts-S.F.) was second in 11.10, and Lionel White (Deer Valley) was third in 11.12.
Burnett, Thayer, White and Nathan Noble (Heritage) teamed to run a season-best time of 42.03 in the 4x100 relay.
The Vikings will compete this weekend in the Beaver Relays at American River.
After a disappointing loss against Folsom Lake College, the Vikings' No. 1 doubles team of Kristina Lencesova and Seila Besirovic rebounded with a vengeance. They prevailed 8-2 against Sierra.
DVC coach Jackie Ponciano-Babb raved of the duo's communication.
"Kristina and Seila played inspired tennis by talking to each other, hitting shots that they worked on in practice, and played positively throughout the match to beat a tough opponent," Ponciano-Babb said via email.
The Vikings started their match against Folsom Lake red hot, sweeping the doubles and looking to carry the momentum into the singles matches. DVC prevailed over FLC 6-3.
DVC's Garrett Goldman and FLC's Sean Alves met up for the second time this year. Goldman dropped a tough three-hour match in the Modesto Invitational. his time Goldman fell in straight sets despite finding his rhythm in the second set. But the DVC men got clutch wins from No. 2 Austin Miller, No. 3 Mariano Salvador and No. 5 Marvic Domingo.
The Vikings also trounced Solano 9-0.
The men's team, in second place behind American River, will play Santa Rosa on Tuesday to end the first round of Big 8 Conference play.