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23 years in the making!

Holtville wins first CIF San Diego Section division softball championship since 1998

LA MESA, Calif. ( KYMA, KECY-TV ) - Holtville entered Saturday's CIF San Diego Section Division IV Championship without having played a game in over a week. Head Coach Melissa Snyder says her team held live scrimmages and prepared mentality and it certainly showed again top seed Bayfront Charter.

Holtville showed no signs of nerves or uneasiness as they started the game with aggression. Sophomore Kamryn Walker led off the game with a fly ball to left center field that was misplayed by the outfield. Walker tried to turn a two base mistake by Bayfront Charter into a three base mistake and she was thrown out at third.

Her teammates had her back. With two outs and senior Emily Zarate on first, freshman Kaitlyn Havens blooped a single to right. Zarate kept running and caught Bayfront off guard, scoring all the way from first base to get the Vikings on the board first. Walker's aggression, Havens clutch hit and Zarate's baserunning ignited the Vikings and they never looked back or trailed in the game.

Havens was followed by freshman Brooke Strahm who singled in a run. Next, sophomore Kalli Strahm did the same as did sophomore Sofie Irungaray. When the inning was over, Holtville held a 4-0 lead, scoring all four runs with clutch two out hits. The early run support helped sophomore pitcher Kalli Strahm settle in.

"As a pitcher it's so much easier to pitch when there is a lead," Kalli Strahm said. "It feels like there is less pressure. It helped me a lot."

Strahm and the Vikings sailed away. The game was never really close since that two out, first inning rally. Holtville added four more in the fifth and three in the sixth. They looked to knock out Bayfront in the sixth inning.

"We were hoping to get them in the 10 run rule possibly in the 6th inning but it didn't work that way so we were able to enjoy all 21 outs," Head coach Melissa Snyder said.

Holtville senior Zamara Gutierrez

Holtville knocked off the #1 seed 13-7 and it wasn't even that close. The win gave the Holtville softball program its first division championship since 1998.

"It's awesome, two of my aunts actually won it, they were the ones who won it, so for me, my sister and my cousins to win it, it's really special," Strahm said.

"We talked all year long about how to get comfortable in uncomfortable situations," Snyder said. "That's what we did. Those two out hits were clutch."

Holtville head coach Melissa Snyder hugs Arielle Sotelo after the Vikings CIF SDS Division IV championship win

When the program won the division title in 1998, that was the end of the season. This year, the Vikings advance to the CIF Southern California Regional State Playoffs. It's marks the farthest the program has ever advanced.

The CIF has taken notice, the Vikings earned a #1 seed in the regionals and will play the winner of #4 Kearny and #5 Bayfront Charter on Thursday.

No matter what happens the rest of the way, Holtville rewrote and continues to rewrite program history. The Vikings are poised to stay strong for years to come as they will only lose two seniors and the end of this season.

Kaitlyn Havens

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Scott Gross

Scott Gross joins the KYMA team as the CBS 13 sports director and weather forecaster. Scott comes to the Desert Southwest all the way from Alaska where he covered the military and education beats for KTVA-TV & KTUU-TV.

Contact him at scott.gross@kecytv.com.

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