Lady Highlanders shutout Sunny Hills to win second straight title

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.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.