EXETER -- Selma High School softball coach Kellen Kubo had his team prepared for an Exeter team that had already beat them twice earlier this season.
Kubo said he and his girls knew what to expect out of the Monarchs so they weren't daunted by having to play the top seed in the Central Section Division V semifinals.
Kubo and the No. 4-seeded Bears avenged two previous losses to Exeter with a 3-2 victory on Wednesday afternoon in Exeter to reach the Division V championship game.
"We thought we were in the best position to beat Exeter," Kubo said. "We played them twice already so we know who's going to hit, how they pitch and we know who's fast. It is easy to beat a team after you played them twice and you know what they can do."
The Bears and Monarchs are familiar with each other because they both play in the Central Sequoia League.
"When the draw came out and we saw we had Exeter, it didn't faze me," Kubo said. "The kids knew what to do. We practiced really hard to get ready for this game."
Exeter owned Selma during the regular season, winning 10-4 and 8-3, and didn't think it would be close again.
"No, I thought we'd rule them," Exeter assistant coach Rusty Johnson said. "We scored 10 and [eight] runs off them already. Why wouldn't we do it again?"
The Monarchs had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh with runners on second and third and one out.
But Selma pitcher Erin Perez got her team out of the jam.
Catherine Williford hit a sharp ground ball to third base, but was thrown out at first for the second out and Brooke Coates popped up behind home plate for the final out of the game.
"It was torture," Kubo said about having to watch the final inning. "These kids have fought all year long. I tell everyone these kids don't quit. I knew they'd find a way through it and not quit and get those last two outs."
Exeter was in good position to win the game in the seventh and was shocked it could not pull it out.
"We were one out away, one strike away with two girls on," Johnson said. "That's the only difference. One hit and we walk off. They dodged a bullet. We just didn't follow through."
Selma took advantage of some Exeter mistakes to take the lead with one run in the fourth inning and two runs in the fifth inning.
They got on the board on a throwing error, which allowed Stefanie Almaguer to score from third base.
And in the fifth inning, with runners on first and second, a mis-played ball by the Exeter centerfielder allowed the game-tying and go-ahead runs to score. Almaguer hit a sinking line drive, which got under the centerfielder's glove and rolled to the fence for a two-run triple.
The Monarchs scored their runs early. Emily Trowbridge drove in Coates on a fielder's choice in the first inning, and Alex Rowell drove in Coates with a sacrifice fly in the third inning.
"Selma played good softball," Johnson said. "That's the bottom line."
The Bears, who improved to 19-6 on the season, will play at No. 2 Liberty/Madera in the championship game on Friday.
"I haven't seen them play all year," Kubo said. "We'll do our best, get some tips here and there and try to get a win."
The Monarchs, who won the Central Sequoia League championship, finished with a 25-5 record.
"They're awesome," Johnson said. "Look at the record. You don't go 25-5 and not be good. A ball bounce here and a bounce there and we win the game."