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

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.

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