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Highlanders blank Raiders for 16th straight rivalry game

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Highlanders blank Raiders for 16th straight rivalry game

Posted on 21 October 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The La Habra high football team claimed another City Championship, shutting out Sonora 40-0 Friday night at The Pit in La Habra.

The Highlander defense, which held Sonora to 104 yards of total offense, has been dominant for five consecutive games now.

They have outscored opponents a combined 227-17 during that stretch and have yet to allow a touchdown in Freeway League play thus far.

“When you get stops and get them off the field, it gives our offense a chance to score,” said Frank Mazzotta, La Habra head coach. “Anytime you can shut your opponent out, they have no chance of winning.”

Quarterback Zach Fogel moved the ball methodically down the field with both his legs and his arm most of the night.

For the third consecutive week, Mazzotta found spots to weave sophomore quarterback Ryan Zanelli into the Highlanders offense.

Zanelli again took advantage of his opportunities on the field, looking accurate from the pocket and leading the offense down the field.

Mazzotta acknowledged Fogel has been playing better than ever the past five weeks, but said he enjoys getting to see what his young quarterback can do against the opponents first teamers.  

“To me it’s fun,” he said. “I really have fun with it.”

Anyone who has been around the La Habra football program knows how much he likes to give all of his players an opportunity to shine on Friday nights.

With his fourth quarter touchdown pass to senior Steven Saucedo, Zanelli has found the end zone in all three of his appearances.

The Raiders kept the game within striking distance for most of the first half.

It was 12-0 with under two minutes remaining in the first half. That’s when Fogel scrambled left and found Mitchell Anderson in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard score to widen the gap.

A Nate Ulloa interception late in the third quarter set up Skyler Taylor’s 70-yard touchdown run on the very next play.

Taylor finished with 130 yards and two touchdowns.

La Habra (6-2, 3-0) will host last season’s League Champs, Buena Park (1-7, 0-3), who have been scuffling next Friday.

Despite the score, Sonora (5-3, 1-2) has vastly improved from a season ago, in which they were winless. The Raiders will take on Sunny Hills (6-2, 1-2) in a pivotal game for both schools next week at Buena Park High School.

“The thing I love is that these kids now give themselves a chance to compete with a team of [La Habra’s] caliber,” said Daniel Morales, Sonora head coach. “I’m proud of the work they put in all year to get bigger and stronger.”

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Phillips shines as La Habra spoils Colony homecoming

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Phillips shines as La Habra spoils Colony homecoming

Posted on 23 September 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Sophomore cornerback Clark Phillips III returned three interceptions for touchdowns to key La Habra’s 49-14 blowout victory over Colony High School in Ontario Friday night.

“I ate a lot [for breakfast] today, eggs, bacon, grits, sausage and I just prayed for a good game,” Phillips said, when asked how he prepared for his breakout game. “I just want to thank god for this awesome opportunity and the coaches for giving me the opportunity.”

Photo by Paul Luna – La Habra sophomore cornerback Clark Phillips III with one of his three interceptions against Colony Friday.

 

Phillips also feasted on fellow sophomore, quarterback Marco Gonzalez, who entered the game midway through the Titans opening drive after starter Joseph Tesimale left with an apparent knee injury.

After Gonzalez lead the Titans the rest of the way down the field and inched over the goal line on 4th down to take an early lead, the Titan offense appeared to not skip a beat.

But Phillips intercepted Gonzalez on the Titans next possession and returned it 38 yards down the sideline to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.

After the Highlanders took a narrow 21-14 lead into halftime, Phillips spurred a 28-point third quarter surge with two more interception returns.

Quarterback Zack Fogel lead the Highlanders down the field on the opening drive of the half connecting with Deavyn Woullard, who made a diving catch in the back of the end zone for a 45-yard score– the first of their two touchdowns in the quarter.

Photo By Paul Luna -Highlander Quarterback Zack Fogel throws a pass in La Habra’s road win Friday against Colony High School.

Phillips followed with his most miraculous play of the night, leaping up to grab an Gonzalez’s overthrown pass with one hand and streaking down the sideline 42 yards for the score to make it 35-14 just three minutes into the third quarter.

Phillips said afterwards that his ball skills and return ability come from playing offense his whole life. He has only been playing cornerback since coming to high school. Prior to that, he had always played running back.

Head coach Frank Mazzotta has taken notice, finding ways to get Phillips increasingly involved on the offensive side of the ball as the season goes on as well.

After Fogel found Woullard again for a 17-yard touchdown, Phillips pulled a pick-six hat-trick with a 60-yard touchdown, again streaking down the La Habra sideline–this time waving bye as he accelerated past the Titans 6’5” wide receiver Michael Ezeike.

Fogel’s night was far more impressive than his modest 92 yards and two touchdowns suggest.

The senior quarterback was accurate all night, but the Highlander receivers had a case of the drops early on, including three in a row that stalled the opening drive of the game.

“I’m telling you right now, [Fogel] has struggled throwing the ball in the past,” Mazzotta said. “But Zack has gotten a lot better and you saw that tonight, this is a culmination of 18 games starting now and the ball is in the right places, he threw it with some velocity and hit people in the hands–that’s what I’m most happy about honestly.”

“Obviously the time helps, experience makes everyone better especially at the quarterback position,” Fogel said. “The coaching is just superb, we watch a lot of film and honestly you don’t want to be your best week-one, we want to be our best in the playoffs, so we’re just trying to get closer to that each week.”

Photo by Paul Luna – a Habra sophomore cornerback Clark Phillips III runs back one of his three interceptions for a touchdown.

Skyler Taylor kept his scoring streak intact, leaping over the pile for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Despite giving way to other running backs for much of the second half in each of the Highlanders three lopsided victories, Taylor impressively has 11 rushing touchdowns and at least one in each game this season.

The loss drops Colony to 3-2 this season. The Titans struggled without Tesimale and the extent of his injury is unknown. Head coach Steve Randall said he will know more on Monday or Tuesday.

Perhaps the most shocking stat line was the penalty disparity between the two teams. Colony finished the game without an official penalty enforced against them. They were called for holding in the third quarter, however it came on the heels of Gonzalez being sacked, so the penalty was declined by La Habra.

While it’s unclear how long he will be sidelined, fortunately Randall will have two weeks to either get his quarterback healthy or prepare for their first league game against Chaffey without him since the Titans have a bye week coming up.

La Habra improved its record to 3-2 heading into league play. Their two losses came against Upland, the top team in CIF Division 2, and Mission Viejo, the No. 2 team in Division 1.

The Highlanders open league against a much improved Sunny Hills (4-0) at Buena Park High School Oct. 6. The Lancers feature one of the top rushers in Orange County, Alex Jung.

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Highlanders start strong and crush Eagles in Saturday rout

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Highlanders start strong and crush Eagles in Saturday rout

Posted on 17 September 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Photo by Paul Luna – La Habra’s Deavyn Woullard makes one if his receptions, en router to a Highlander touchdown Saturday.

La Habra’s 42 first-half points spoiled the Oak Grove Eagles’ trip south from San Jose abruptly Saturday afternoon at Mission Viejo High School.

Following a tough loss to Mission Viejo at home last week that capped a gauntlet three game stretch to open the season, the Highlanders(2-2) were able to even up their record behind Zach Fogel’s three first half touchdowns, with nine different Highlanders reaching the end zone.

“We’ve been playing some really good teams and I think we’ve been playing hard and doing what we are supposed to do,” La Habra Head Coach Frank Mazzotta said. “You know every once in awhile you’re do for an outing like this where things just kinda click and go your way.”

Skyler Taylor opened the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run on the Highlanders opening drive. It was Taylor’s team leading ninth touchdown this season.

Fogel then spread the ball around on 5-8, 155 yards passing. He found Mitchell Anderson and Deavyn Woullard early for scores, then capped off his impressive half by hitting Kelani Washington with an over the shoulder 29-yard touchdown with :07 seconds left.

Photo by Paul Luna – La Habra’s Skyler Taylor pushes through Eagle defenders Saturday in La Habra’s victory.

In a game where everything seem to go the Highlanders way, Mazzotta said he was most impressed with the offensive line and Fogel’s improvement at quarterback.

“I think Zach threw the ball a little better, and that’s one thing that we’ve been trying to impress upon.”

“I’m always going to put a lot of pressure on myself to get better every week,” Fogel said. “I got better this week and we’ll try to do it again next week.”

Special teams got in on the scoring as well. Isaiah Alcocer returned a missed fg 99 yards for a touchdown on the Eagles opening drive.

With the score being lopsided so quickly, Taylor gave way to linebacker Kobah Fuamatu in the backfield midway through the second quarter. Fuamatu carried the ball twice for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Aaron Young added the final score in the fourth quarter to make it 49-0.

La Habra and Oak Grove(0-3) were both CIF Champions in 2015.

The Highlanders will take on Colony(3-1) in Ontario next Friday in their final non-league game. The Titans are coming off a 41-20 victory over Norte Vista.

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Late third quarter surge helps Diablos pull away from Highlanders

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Late third quarter surge helps Diablos pull away from Highlanders

Posted on 10 September 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The La Habra high football team played it even with No. 2 Mission Viejo for about two and a half quarters Friday night, but the Diablos ended the third with three unanswered scores to break the game open and held on for the 42-27 win at La Habra.

Skyler Taylor drives against a Mission Viejo tackler Friday. Photo by Miguel Pola.

La Habra began the third quarter impressively on both sides of the ball to bring the score to 14-13.

The defense forced a quick punt on Mission Viejo’s opening drive, then quarterback Zack Fogel completed two consecutive passes to Mitchell Anderson for 50 yards, capped by a 20-yard touchdown.

Mission Viejo (3-0) answered with a 25-yard touchdown run by Akili Arnold.

The Diablos capitalized on a Fogel interception and partially blocked punt out of the end zone that set them up with a short field on their next two possessions.

Before the end of the quarter, the Highlanders found themselves looking up at a 35-13 deficit. Mission Viejo added one more early in the fourth.

“Their defense made a lot of really good adjustments to what we were doing,” Fogel said. “That [time-frame] right there late in the third wasn’t good for us and they took advantage of it.” 

“[Fogel] struggled to throw the ball tonight,” Mazzotta said. “He does a lot of good things though, made a lot of good reads and runs and stuff like that.”

Arnold was thrust into action midway through the first quarter after starting running back Jamari Ferrell suffered a serious leg injury. The junior responded with career highs in yards (151) and touchdowns (3).

The Highlanders didn’t go quietly. Fogel connected with on two fourth quarter touchdown passes to Deavyn Woullard.  

The Highlanders refusal to go away coupled with the second unit’s inability to move the ball, prompted Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson to insert his first unit back into action with about two minutes to play after sitting for half of the quarter.

The move proved to be a costly decision. On the first play back in the game, starting left guard Chuck Redman suffered an apparent knee injury and had to be carted off the field.

Skyler Taylor carried the ball 17 times for 96 yards for the Highlanders, and with his first quarter touchdown has now scored in each of the Highlanders first three games.

Fogel finished with 142 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Woullard had 59 yards receiving with two touchdowns.

Mission Viejo quarterback Joey Yellen threw for 206 yards and two scores.

Penalties were an issue for the Highlanders all night. They were hit with 12 flags, five of them for pass interference.

“They don’t need help,” Mazzotta said. “I mean bless, good teams don’t need to keep drives alive with that many penalties.”

Mission Viejo has another tough game ahead of them next week when they play Long Beach Poly. Both teams are ranked in the top-10 in the State.

The No. 9 Highlanders (1-2) will try to bounce back next Friday against Oak Grove (0-2) of San Jose at The Pit.

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Taylor’s record night, lifts Highlanders over Titans

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Taylor’s record night, lifts Highlanders over Titans

Posted on 02 September 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Skyler Taylor’s school record seven touchdowns spurred La Habra to upend Tesoro with a decisive 45-14 victory in Friday night’s home opener.

La Habra’s Skyler Taylor runs for one of his record setting touchdowns against Tesoro Friday night. Photo by Miguel Pola

It was an impressive showing following their lopsided loss to Upland last week.


“It’s ironic,” head coach Frank Mazzotta said of his message to the team this week. “You’re never as bad as you think you are, and you’re never as good as you think you are either.”

“I was proud of the kids, they did a pretty good job,” Mazzotta added. “Instead of getting down [and dwelling on last week], they came out and played.”

Taylor got the Highlanders on the board early and they never slowed down.

Playing in his first home game since joining the team, Taylor scored on each of the first two Highlander possessions, from six and 40 yards.

La Habr’s defense held the Titans to only 14 points Friday as LHHS won 45-14. Photo by Miguel Pola

Tesoro showed signs of life late in the first, when quarterback Chase Petersen hit John Cody for a 72-yard touchdown.

The Highlander defense set the tone early as well, forcing three turnovers in the first quarter (two interceptions and a fumble).

After a Clark Phillips interception staved off the Titans drive deep into Highlander territory, Taylor burst through the line and ran 91 yards untouched to make it 19-7 with 1:15 left in the first quarter.

The Highlanders offensive line paved the way for Taylor to go into halftime with six scores and a 39-7 lead.

“We are counting on them to be something special this year,” Mazzotta said about his offensive line. “Now they have to live up to it.”

Taylor would only play one more series in the third quarter, adding a 67-yarder to his total and finished with 300 yards.

La Habra Quarterback Zach Fogel makes a pass past Tesoro defenders in the Highlander 45-14 victory. Photo by Miguel Pola.

“It feels great playing behind them, I love my team man,” Taylor said. “It was all offensive line tonight, couldn’t do it without them.  

For the Titans, Petersen and Cody would hookup one more time midway through the fourth for another long touchdown. The duo accounted for the Titans only two scores on the night.

Quarterback Zach Fogel connected on a pair of long pass plays down inside the 5-yard-line, one to Deavyn Woullard and one to Kelani Washington that set up two more Taylor scores.

“I saw a little improvement, but tonight was all about our o-line and Skyler, with seven touchdowns, that’s unreal,” Fogel said.

Tesoro (0-2) dropped a heartbreaker last week to No. 1 Edison 47-48, but came into the night still ranked ahead of La Habra in Division 2.

Next week will be another serious test for the Highlanders (1-1), when they host the No. 10 team in California, Mission Viejo (2-0) Friday night. The Diablos are averaging 40 points-per-game so far and just beat a tough Vista Murrietta team 41-7.

Fogel said the key is just getting back to work, you don’t get too low after a loss or too high after a win.

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Rebuilt Raiders look to reap their redemption

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Rebuilt Raiders look to reap their redemption

Posted on 02 August 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

To say last season was rough for the Sonora Raiders might be an understatement. It was a new coach with a new system working with a team that lost the majority of its veteran and skilled players.
However, second year Head Coach Daniel Morales is optimistic for this season.
“This season, we have a lot to prove,” Morales said. “We’re still a young team and staff, but I’m happy with how hard the guys have worked. We are a lot stronger and bigger this year.”
Morales noted that he has some veterans coming back, but likes what he sees in the younger players that are continuing to build their skills.
Senior Ryan Martinez will be the Raider starter at quarterback.
He will have a host of Raiders to throw to, including senior tight end Troy McDonald and receivers Josh Gonzalez and Derek Cole. He will also have Cal-committed Chigozie Anusiem who will spend time on both sides of the ball as receiver and corner.
Running back Chandler Thompson will head up the Raider ground attack, along with sophomore Ryan Loudon.
On defense, Morales said senior Tommy Mendrin should have a big year at safety. Edward Medina, Alan Huerta and Anusiem will help round out the Raider secondary.
Morales said he likes what he is seeing in his linebacking corps. Thompson and Trent Rodriguez are set to start, with others rotating in.
Morales said the Raider line is shaping up well on both sides of the ball. Anchored by Calvin Chuayiuso, Jose Lopez and all league lineman Sebastian Perez, Sonora should have an imposing front.
The Raiders will be hungry for their first win since their first-round CIF victory over Tustin in 2015.
Morales noted the Freeway League is on a different spot this year with new coaching staffs at Troy and Buena Park and a second-year coach at Sunny Hills. He said Sonora will play hard and, as long as they stay healthy, they will battle for a playoff spot.
The Raiders open up at home against Whittier High School on August 25.
Sonora looks to avenge last year’s opening-day 16-0 loss against the Cardinals (5-5,2-3). Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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Lady Highlanders react to resignation, LHHS looks for new coach

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Lady Highlanders react to resignation, LHHS looks for new coach

Posted on 30 June 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

La Habra High School Softball Coach Steve Harrington stepped down shortly after the season despite an immensely successful two-year run at the helm.

Photo courtesy Miguel Pola –  All about coaching: Steve Harrington resigned late last month as head softball coach at La Habra after leading the Lady Highlanders to a 21-8, 9-1 season and helped them move to Division 1 in CIF.

Despites only being at La Habra for less than two seasons, Harrington developed a bond with his team that has arguable impacted each of them.
So much so, that upon hearing of his decision to step down, a large group of team members and parents demanded a meeting with school administration to plead for Harrington to remain with the school.
Eleven varsity softball players, along with parents, La Habra High School Principal Karl Zener and Athletic Director Frank McCarroll held a meeting with last month to fight for Harrington.
According to former Lady Highlander and assistant coach Regina Andrade, who was present at the meeting, the players, parents and Andrade`each voiced their support of Harrington for helping to better the team and the program as a whole.
All 11 girls showed up with heartfelt letters in-hand, explaining how Harrington had, and continues to impact their lives both on and off the field.
The meeting concluded with the administration stating that it was out of the their hands because Harrington had resigned earlier in the week.
After the meeting, the group of players and parents went to the district office to fight for Harrington. According to multiple sources, the only solution provided was to have Harrington re-apply for the position.
McCarroll could not comment on the personnel situation.
“We wish Coach Harrington the best and thank him for the past two years,” Zener said.
Harrington was able to help lead the Lady Highlanders to remarkable on-the-field success in his short time with the team.
A little more than a month after arriving, Harrington lead the team on an unprecedented 27-game winning streak, which only came to an end during the 2016 CIF semifinals.
After the team’s success in his first season the Lady Highlanders became the first team in any sport in the history of the school to be moved up and compete in CIF Division 1.
Many parents and players reacted to the promotion with some fear that the 2017 season would be difficult.
Harrington though, didn’t sweat it. Instead he reacted by working to inspire the team to believe they absolutely belonged at the top. And convinced the team that they would not only compete in Division 1, but beat a lot of the top team’s in the division.
And that’s exactly what they did.
The Lady Highlanders finished the 2017 season with an impressive 21-8, 9-1 record, and along the way beat some of the top ranked teams in the nation.
The Lady Highlanders were actually ranked in the top-10 in the nation back in March, after defeating Orange Lutheran and the No. 1-ranked team in the Nation Los Alamitos in back-to-back games during the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Bullhead, Arizona.
Few people know what Harrington has done, and continues, to do behind the scenes for his girls.
His reputation for being a hard-nosed coach is earned. According to him, he makes his players put in the work and hold them accountable.
He explains that it comes from a place of wanting to help his players become the best they can be.
The touching letters penned by some of his players to the school paint a picture of what is underneath that tough exterior.
They tell a story of a coach, a mentor and for some, even a father figure who went out of his way to make sure all of his players were able to compete at the highest level on the field, and be the best version of themselves off of it as well.
“Steve has impacted my life in many ways,” catcher Alyssa Rios said. “He brought my confidence up when nobody believed in me, not even myself and turned me into a catcher I never thought I could be.”
“Steve showed me the more detailed parts of the game,” first baseman Alyssa Palacios said. “He’s also showed me how far confidence can get you and he’s just made me see the game in a different aspect that makes the game quicker and more fun, he’s an awesome coach and an awesome person in general.”
“Coach Steve really cared about me and always had my back,” shortstop Savannah Tourville said. “Not only is coach Steve coaching us but he really cares about each player and wants us to get to the next level and help us in the future after college.”
Harrington’s impact was also felt off the field for many of the girls. Perhaps none more so than Rios.
“He also helped me through my depression,” Rios said. “My dad had passed away about 11 months ago and he was there for me, pushing me to be a better person and I thank him for that everyday.”
“He’s given me opportunities of a lifetime with college,” she continued. “He’s overall an amazing person and a father figure in my eyes.”

Many of the players echoed sentiments about Harrington’s generosity, pointing out how he bought the team matching cleats at the beginning of the season and helped pay for some players to travel out of state for the Tournament of Champions.
“He always told us that money was not an issue,” Tourville said. “He helped out with free lessons and paid for many other things, even simple things like buying the team breakfast and giving us that time to bond.”
Palacios explained that he would help out the girls who couldn’t afford the Laughlin trip or the banquet, and that there would be a way for them to go.
Harrington still helps the girls when he can. He’ll attend travel pall games and provide a free lesson here and there. He’s also working his connections in the softball world to help set up college scouting visits for the girls still without scholarship offers.
“He’s contacted a few schools for me and one of them really likes me,” Rios said.
“He’s helped me after the season to prepare me for college,” Palacios said.
In his two seasons, Harrington helped the La Habra softball program grow and develop into one of the top programs, and he is ready for his next opportunity.
La Habra is currently accepting applications for the coaching position and hopes to have someone in place by the start of the school year.

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Lady Highlanders mash their way past YL into round two of CIF

Lady Highlanders mash their way past YL into round two of CIF

Posted on 19 May 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The La Habra softball team hit the ball hard for six innings to beat the feisty Yorba Linda Mustangs 9-3 despite trailing early.

The Mustangs struck first with a stolen base, a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt book ended by a pair of singles to take a 1-0 in the top of the first inning.

“They came out enthusiastic and if I’m them, that’s the only way to stay in the ballgame,” said La Habra head coach Steve Harrington.

La Habra came out driving the ball well, but Yorba Linda made a couple nice plays defensively to keep the Lady Highlanders of the base paths in the bottom half of the inning.

“Our kids remained poised and in our first inning we were just mashing the ball,” Harrington said. “I told these kids ‘do not to push the panic button,’ because the way we were hitting the ball, it was going to start landing somewhere and we were hitting the ball very, very hard, so it didn’t matter the fact that we were down 1-0, that was in my opinion really not a factor at all.”

It didn’t take long before the ball started landing in gaps, and beyond. The Lady Highlanders got a single from Janelle Rodriguez in the second. Then Anissa Alatorre followed with a two-run shot to left field that cleared both fences.

Yorba Linda answered right back the next inning with some more small ball. Sierra Buerle singled and Rae Machurski moved her over with another well placed sacrifice bunt. Then Kindy Favata hit a dribbler and beat the throw to first to tie the game at 2-2.

Alyssa Palacios gave La Habra the lead back again in the bottom half of the inning with bases loaded single that scored a pair to make it 4-2 after three innings.

Yorba Linda would add one more run to tighten the gap, but Palacios and the Lady Highlanders offense weren’t done. The La Habra first baseman doubled in a pair of runs in the fifth, then punctuated the victory with a two-run home in the sixth to make it 9-3.

“I felt like I had the perfect rhythm going and knew if I just got a base hit, that it would do the job,” Palacios said. “I didn’t really swing that hard, it just hit the spot and went.”

Palacios lead the way for La Habra with a double and a home run on three hits with five RBI’s.

“I think we knew there was a lot of game left and coach Steve tells us all the time that teams are going to play their best games against us,” Palacios said. “I knew if I did my job, my teammates would do theirs.”

Yorba Linda finished the season at 17-8. Yorba Linda head coach Sharon Farrell is a La Habra resident and has been Mustangs only coach since the school opened. She has a combined record of 107-59 since 2011. The Mustangs have had a winning record every season and finished 24-4 in 2013, when they lost in the CIF Semifinals to Santiago.

“The girls came to play, we were executing in the beginning and really we were there for five innings, but there were a few little pressure errors and it turned it,” Farrell said. “[La Habra] is a great team and good luck to them, we had a great season it just didn’t happen for us today.”

With La Habra moving up to Division 1 this season, every game the rest of the way will be a battle between two of the top teams in the State.

The Lady Highlanders (21-7) will travel to Corona to play Santiago in the second round of the CIF Division 1 Playoffs on Tuesday. Santiago (22-6) is a strong team, currently ranked in the top-10 in CA. The Sharks defeated Yucaipa 6-3 in their opening round matchup on Thursday.

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Lady Highlanders shutout Sunny Hills to win second straight title

Lady Highlanders shutout Sunny Hills to win second straight title

Posted on 12 May 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

Hannah Johnson pitched a two-hit shutout to help the Lady Highlanders win the Freeway League title Friday.

Behind Hannah Johnson’s complete game, two-hit shutout, La Habra avenged its lone Freeway League loss with a 6-0 victory at Sunny Hills Thursday afternoon.

In two seasons under head coach Steve Harrington the La Habra softball team has lost just one Freeway League contest. The only blemish came two weeks ago, a 16-4 loss at the hands of the Lancers.

That loss was fresh in the minds of Harrington and the Lady Highlanders. It was especially important for the seniors to cap their final regular season game with a victory.

Senior center fielder Kira Cauley admitted she felt the added pressure to punctuate her final Freeway League game with a victory.

“All day I was kinda nervous for this game,” Cauley said. “This [game] was really important, especially after freshman year being co-champs with them, sophomore year co-champs then last year winning, there was really an expectation to win and prove our senior class was just as good as last year’s.”

Cauley set the tone defensively right away in the bottom of the first. After cutting off what appeared to be a double into the gap to hold Ashley Moss to a long single, Cauley secured the final two outs in center to stave off a potential early Lancer rally.

The Lady Highlanders got the scoring started in the second inning. Savannah Tourville doubled to open the inning and Anissa Alatorre followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Tourville came home shortly after on a wild pitch.

Up 3-0 La Habra doubled their run total with a three-run fifth inning. After a couple well executed squeeze plays, Alatorre came up with a big RBI double to make it 6-0.

Alatorre lead La Habra with three hits and an RBI. In addition to her great defensive work, Cauley had two RBI’s on the afternoon.

That was more than enough for Johnson, who was masterful all afternoon. The Lady Highlanders’ ace retired the final 12 Lancers she faced, allowed just two hits and struck out five.

“She is usually on, but today she was hitting her spots like crazy,” Cauley said. “Hannah really threw a hell of a game today.”

Harrington praised catcher Alyssa Rios’ work behind the plate. After perhaps the best catcher in the history of La Habra softball, Nikki Butler moved on to become a First Team All-WAC player as a freshman at New Mexico State this season, Rios certainly had some pretty big shoes to fill this season.

“I’m telling you, that girl called the game of her life, I could not have called a better game than she did,” Harrington said. “She was probably the dark horse in this particular outcome, she was the one who got Hannah going today.”

The Lady Highlanders(9-1) finish with their second straight Freeway League title and will enter their first CIF Playoffs in Division 1 next week. The pairings will be announced Monday, with their first round game most likely coming on Thursday.

“How could you not want to be in my shoes, these kids are phenomenal, and they’re such classy kids,” Harrington added.

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Lady Highlanders crush Coyotes on Senior Day

Lady Highlanders crush Coyotes on Senior Day

Posted on 05 May 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

By Miguel Pola. La Habra coach Steve Harrington talks with the players during an earlier game this season. The Lady Highlanders crushed Buena Park 27-0 Thursday.

The seniors on the La Habra softball team ended their final home game with an exclamatory 27-0 victory over Buena Park on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s kinda sad because it goes by so fast, they tell you that it goes by fast but now we’re here on Senior Day and it’s just mind blowing,” senior centerfielder Kira Cauley said. “It was good to take in knowing that every last pitch counts because this will be the last time we take the field together and being in the box knowing that every at bat could be the last.”

Cauley got the offensive outburst going with a leadoff double and came around to score to put La Habra up 1-0 after one inning.

Senior starting pitcher Hannah Johnson was dominant in the circle, retiring nine straight Coyote batters through three innings.

With a 4-0 lead heading to the bottom half of the third, La Habra’s offense exploded for a 13-run inning.

Senior Alyssa Palacios hit a homerun to deep center field to open the inning. The Lady Highlanders proceeded to bat around with four doubles and a second home run off the bat of another senior, Alexis Riley in the inning.

Johnson shut the Coyotes down again in the fourth and finished the game with a no-hitter intact, albeit through four innings of work. After his team posted another 10 runs in the fourth, La Habra coach Steve Harrington opted to get his other pitchers some work in the fifth.

“It’s meant a lot to me playing for La Habra, being a Highlander and playing with the team the last four years was a great experience.” Johnson said. “I’m going to miss how we were such a bonded team and everybody got along.”

With the score looking more like a one-sided football game at 27-0, the umpires called the game before La Habra could bat in the fifth.

Sophomore outfielder Frankie Valencia went 5-5 with three doubles and a triple and finished a home run shy of the cycle. In her final at bat, Valencia scorched a line drive down the left field line that landed five feet shy of the fence and bounced over for a ground rule double.

La Habra(7-1) is tied atop the Freeway League with Sunny Hills(7-1), whom they lost to a week ago. Wednesday at Sunny Hills the two teams will meetup one more time to decide who will be crowned league champs.

“They got us a good time, but the tell tale story will be what happens next [Wednesday] when we play them again,” Harrington said. “I firmly believe our kids are very well prepared for it, they want to do really well.”

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