Eighth seed King City gave No. 1 seed Leland a fight all the way through in the CCS Division V softball playoffs, but the Lady Mustangs came up short 2-1. (Ivan Garcia)

KING CITY — In a season that had its ups and downs, the King City High girls’ softball team was able to win five straight games to sneak into the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

After last season ended the way it did, losing by 14 to Soquel, the Lady Mustangs got a chance to redeem themselves because of the team they had returning. One of those players that returned was All-Leaguer Lisa Villanueva. Unfortunately for Villanueva, she got hurt during the fall, keeping her out for most of the season.

When Villanueva was in the lineup, the Lady Mustangs were 5-2 and 8-12-1 without her.

Once the season got going, King City didn’t get off to the best of starts, dropping their first three games of the season. Right after dropping those early games, the Lady Mustangs found a rhythm, going 5-2 with a win over some of their South Monterey County rivals, the Soledad Aztecs and Gonzales Spartans.

The season-ending saw them outside the playoffs bubble at 5-5 in league play. Coming off losses to Gonzales, Pacific Grove and Stevenson, the Lady Mustangs were a loss away from possibly not returning to the postseason. With five games left in the season, they would have to run the table to have a chance.

The good news for the Lady Mustangs was in their final four games, they faced two teams that were at the bottom, but they also had to face the Carmel Padres twice.

The Padres, who were also trying to claim a spot in the postseason, needed to split the series. The Mustangs accepted the challenge, and were able to sweep the Padres and earn a spot in the play-in game against the North Salinas Vikings to determine a spot in the Central Coast Section (CCS) playoffs.

The play-in game was not a place of the unknown for the Lady Mustangs. Last season King City had to beat Gilroy to make it into the postseason. This year they had to play the North Salinas Vikings again. In the first match, the Vikings beat them 10-3. This time the Mustangs were able to beat them in the rematch 5-4.

With the Lady Mustangs guaranteed a spot in the postseason, they were put in CCS Division V playoffs as the eighth seed and drew the No. 1 seed, Leland. The Lady Mustangs gave Leland a fight all the way through, but they came up short 2-1.

When people go back and think of this season, it’s going to be one of “what ifs.” What if Villanueva was healthy for the full season? Would the Mustangs have won a league title? All questions that won’t be answered, unfortunately.

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Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.


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