Allie Fryklund’s best Senior Day moment came when it got passed on to her sophomore battery mate on the San Marcos High softball team.
Catcher Gigi Gritt followed an intentional walk to the Royals’ lone senior by slugging a bases-loaded hit to the right field fence to give the Royals a 1-0, walk-off victory over cross-town rival Dos Pueblos on Thursday.
“I was totally confident in Gigi,” said Fryklund, who pitched a two-hit, 10-strikeout gem to blank the Chargers for the second time in three days. “I don’t think she gives herself enough credit. She’s a great player, a great catcher.
“Every single girl put their heart and soul into this. It was just a great way to be rewarded on Senior Day.”
The victory in Thursday’s regular-season finale gave San Marcos (17-4, 14-1 Channel League) an outright conference championship. The Chargers (16-7, 12-3) had entered the week tied for first with the Royals.
“It’s so fun to win a 1-0 game … league championship on the line against your arch-rival,” Royals’ coach Jeff Swann said.
San Marcos’ lone league loss came the last time it played host to Dos Pueblos. The Chargers rallied for a 5-4 win on April 23. The Royals have won 12 straight games since then.
“That same situation happened in the first game and we ended up losing,” Gritt said. “But to come back like this is amazing.
“(Fryklund) is one of the hardest-working kids on this team and I think she wanted that more than anyone. We really wanted to get that for her.”
Georgia Wilson, DP’s freshman pitcher, had performed well in the clutch all game, as well. She stranded eight runners through the first six innings, five of whom reached scoring position, and scattered seven hits.
“That was a great-pitched game,” Chargers coach Mike Gerken said. “(Wilson) is really composed for a freshman and she’s really good at locating her pitches. It keeps the batters off and they don’t get a lot of barrels on it. But credit to Gigi, she got a barrel on it.
“I talk about this game being a game of memories and moments. When we were here last time, we had a moment. This time Gigi has a moment … That’s a moment she’ll have for the rest of her life.”
Another freshman, Emma Foster, ignited the seventh-inning rally by working a leadoff walk. Kamilah Morales followed with an infield single. She and teammate Tiana Monaghan both had two hits in the game.
San Marcos star Caitlyn Early, who had doubled in her previous at-bat, grounded into a force-out to put runners on first-and-third bases. Gerken then called for Wilson to intentionally walk Fryklund.
Swann considered it to be a case of picking your poison since DP was bypassing a .545 hitter to get at a similarly dangerous, .433 hitter.
“There is no one person I’d rather have up there (than Gritt) because of her maturity,” he said. “She’s calm and she has a great understanding of the game. She knows the strike zone.
“So that was the perfect player to have in there.”
Fryklund, who pitched a perfect game earlier in the season, did have to work out of a pair of early jams. Singles by Riley Monroe in the first inning and Lacey Spear in the second, along with a trio of walks, put four Chargers into scoring position. But Fryklund pitched out of trouble both times before catching her stride to retire DP’s last 15 batters.
“It’s Senior Day, and she definitely had the emotion in her pitching,” Gritt said. “She’s one of the most hyped-up persons on our team. She always comes out here and pumps everybody up. She wants to win.”
Both teams now await Saturday’s release of the CIF-Southern Section playoff brackets. Swann, who guided San Marcos into the CIF finals in both 2017 and 2018, likes his chances again.
“There is so much love on this team that even when kids faltered, there was someone there to pick them up,” he said. “That is our success, the love and trust and respect that these kids have for each other.”