The Mt. Pleasant softball team got a taste of what playing in a Central Coast Section championship game is like a year ago, losing to Gilroy 1-0 in the Division II final. The Cardinals would like nothing better than to get back to the final and produce a different outcome this time around.

They took the first step Wednesday, scoring three runs in the top of the eighth and holding on for an 8-6 win over host Saratoga in the first round of the CCS Division II playoffs.

"Me and third baseman Jolene Castro talk about it all the time,'' said shortstop Emily Randall, whose two-run double broke a 5-5 tie in the top of the eighth. "It's a big motivation to get back. ''

Both teams were ready to create offense at the game's outset. Saratoga (17-11) led 3-2 after one inning and 4-3 after two. Mt. Pleasant (14-11) scored two in the third on RBI singles by Megan Graeser and Lilliana Resendez to take a 5-4 lead, but Saratoga tied it in the fifth.

Castro reached on a walk to lead off the eighth, and Resendez singled, her fourth hit of the game. Randall then lined a double up the alley in left-center to plate both runners. She stole third on a throw from the catcher to the pitcher and scored on a short fly out to left field.

"She's been like that all year,'' Mt. Pleasant coach Manuel Resendez said of Randall, who had three hits and two stolen bases. "When she relaxes, that kid is awesome.''

The Falcons came back with a run in the bottom of the eighth on doubles by Hera Tang and Analisa Ruff before Mt. Pleasant pitcher Celine Alcantara got the final out. Ruff, Saratoga's catcher, homered to center field in the second. Amanda Lee hit a two-run double in the first for the Falcons.

No. 12 Mt. Pleasant advances to play No. 4 Valley Christian, a 7-0 winner over Mills, on Saturday at PAL Stadium at 4 p.m.

In other Division II opening-round games, No. 6 Presentation beat Branham 10-4 as pitcher Lorena Ukanwa homered and Gabrielle Forbes had three hits, No. 10 Westmont defeated Sobrato 6-3, and No. 8 Capuchino beat Monterey 10-0 in six innings.

In quarterfinal matchups on Saturday, Presentation (22-7) plays No. 3 seed Hillsdale (20-7) at Hawes Park in Redwood City at 10 a.m., Westmont (16-11) plays No. 2 Pioneer (22-4) at PAL Stadium at 10 a.m. and Capuchino plays No. 1 Archbishop Mitty (27-1) at PAL Stadium at 6 p.m.

Division I: Five teams from the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League advanced in opening-round games Wednesday. No. 5 Wilcox (21-7) beat Los Gatos 10-1, and No. 11 Homestead defeated No. 6 Gunn 14-6 in all-SCVAL matchups.

It was No. 4 Los Altos over No. 13 Lincoln 7-2; No. 7 Mountain View with a 5-4 win over Salinas in eight innings; and No. 8 Milpitas defeating Christopher 6-5.

Homestead scored eight runs in the fourth to break open its game with Gunn. Nicky Kirk, Sara Hu, and Mikaela Copley had three hits apiece for Homestead.

Division III: Lindsey Mifsud pitched a four-hitter as Notre Dame-Belmont (17-11) defeated Pacific Grove 4-1. Sofia Reyes doubled and drove in two runs.

No. 5 Notre Dame will play No. 4 Half Moon Bay (21-7), a 12-2 winner in six innings over Castilleja, on Saturday at Hawes Park at noon.