Tag Archive | "Lady Heralds"

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Lady Heralds soar past Eagles in first round

Posted on 12 November 2014 by La Habra Journal

The Lady Heralds came in focused to take their first victory in CIF playoffs.

They were on the road against Calvary Chapel, but started strong and swept all three games (25-19, 25-15, 25-21) to move past the Eagles.Web_LHJ WCHS_LHHS_Vball__0166

“It’s huge. Even though we have a lot of girls that have been there in previous years, this is a brand new team,” said Whittier Christian Head Coach Todd Morrison.

The Lady Heralds’ faced their biggest challenge in the third game, where the Eagles came with their best effort.

“For us to come out and just focus, concentrate, even to get through kind of the bumps there, it means a lot going forward, knowing who we could expect to see,” Morrison said.

Despite charging out to a 4-0 lead, the Eagles battled back to win 6 points in a row.

“I always tell the girls, your best effort is required all the time, and those little things that happen, you got to persevere,” Morrison said.

It went back and forth with 6 ties in just the third game, but the Heralds made went on an 8-2 run to separate themselves from the Eagles and position themselves to move on in CIF.

“I told them, I’m not going to burn a timeout on you, because I want you guys to figure it out, and that’s what it takes,” Morrison said.

Before that, the Heralds steadily separated themselves in game one, and dominated game two. Before the six-point run, it looked like the Heralds would cruise to their round one victory.

The Heralds were led by outside hitters Mandy Sides and Jeanna Reinis who led the team in kills.

Christa Evans was a key contributor in blocks, early in game one from the middle.Web_LHJ WCHS_LHHS_Vball__0226

Kiana Louie led the defensive effort and came up with big blocks and kills up the middle for the Heralds.

“I think for this team, sky is the limit for us, if we stick together and just, play volleyball,” Morrison said.

The Heralds will play Brea Olinda at home on Thursday night.

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New-look Lady Heralds drop home opener to Brea

Posted on 04 September 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal             

The Whittier Christian girls volleyball team’s quest for a third consecutive CIF championship got off to the wrong foot Thursday night as they were swept 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-18) by the visiting Brea Olinda High School.Web_LHJ WCHS vs BOHS vball__048

“We just did not execute today at all,” said Whittier Christian’s head coach, Todd Morrison. “They were able to get us out of our formations a lot and put us in some bad spots. They are a good team and we did not play to their level today.”

The team has won the last two CIF titles, but they lost almost all of their starters to graduation.

“We have a long way to go,” said captain Jeanie Reinis. “We fought hard today and did not give up and that is what defines this team. We fight.”

Reinis had a game-high 17 kills.

The game also the first for Morrison as head coach at Whittier Christian.

“Coach Morrison is a great coach,” said the co-captain Kiana Louie. “His enthusiasm is awesome and he makes us want to go hard in practice.”

Morrison knows that he has the tough task of performing up to the level that the Heralds have been known to play at. However, he knows that he and the team will be able to handle it.

“I do not think that there is any added pressure,” Morrison said. “We want to win and we want to win championships, but this is a new team and I am the new coach. The goal is to put a system in place and get these girls clicking.”

This year’s team does not have the same size and power as the one who went deep into the state championships last year. The Heralds are looking to fill the loss of two dominant outside hitters in Kylee Wolfe and Deanna Blaine.

“We need to pass well if we are going to do well this year,” Morrison said. “We have some good outside hitters but we need to put the ball in good spots.”Web_LHJ WCHS vs BOHS vball__140

Even though the Heralds dropped their first match of the season, the team still is encouraged going forward this year.

“We are a young team,” Louie said. “We are still as hungry as ever though is a lot of room for improvement and we just have to go back and practice hard.

“This team can go far if they click,” Morrison added. “We expect to go into every game and compete. We think that we can definitely compete in this league and play into the playoffs. How far we go in playoffs depends on the girls.

The Heralds will look to bounce back next Thursday at Milliken in Long Beach.

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Lady Heralds lose early lead, fall to Temescal Canyon in first round

Posted on 20 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Katelyn Wagner threw six-plus innings, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out three batters as the Lady Heralds fell to Temescal Canyon in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, 4-2 at home, Tuesday afternoon.

Whittier Christian’s Katelyn Wagner threw six-plus innings, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out three batters as the Lady Heralds fell to Temescal Canyon in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, 4-2 at home, Tuesday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian softball team went into the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs riding a five-game win streak and plenty of momentum after a blowout win over Maranatha to close the regular season.

The co-Olympic League champions took a quick 2-0 lead over first-round opponent Temescal Canyon, but the offense went stagnant the rest of the way as the Titans came back to defeat the Lady Heralds 4-2, Tuesday afternoon at home.

With strong winds coming in from the outfield, Whittier Christian’s attempts to get under the ball and drive it into the outfield resulted in seven infield pop fly balls and four more routine fly balls into the outfield.

“I felt confident that we could make a run at CIF,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach. “However much confidence we have, we still have to do the job. We made adjustments early, but couldn’t keep it going.”

In contrast, Temescal Canyon broke through with ground balls up the middle and a couple line drives. The Titans took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning with RBI singles by Kora Wade and Mikayla Lawerence.

The Titans [19-10] had no problem driving the ball back up the middle, however, Lady Heralds’ starting pitcher Katelyn Wagner gloved five of those ground balls for outs.

“We played a good game, Katelyn pitched a great game,” Van Duyn said. “Hannah [Gabriel] came in and played great and Taylor [Escobar] came up with some big plays. I thought we played a great game, it shouldn’t have ended up this way, but that’s softball.”

In the seventh inning, the Titans padded their lead with a sacrifice fly by Taylor Eden, scoring Kendall Niccoli-Sampang from third base.

Whittier Christian scored both of its runs in the first inning. After loading the bases, Escobar then hit a sharp grounder up the middle to give the Lady Heralds a quick 2-0 lead. Behind the plate, Escobar came up with a key double play to end a threat in the second inning.

But Temescal Canyon starting pitcher Mo Libunao settled down after the rocky start, retiring nine batters in a row at one point.

“I have to give credit to [Libunao], she kept it to where we tried to get underneath it and we didn’t adjust,” Van Duyn said.

The Lady Heralds finish their season with a 16-11 record and claimed a share of the Olympic League title before falling in the first round, Tuesday.

“What I liked about this group was that they refocused and realized they had to compete as a group,” Van Duyn said. “When they did that, they won games and accomplished great things.”

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Risky play leads to big reward for Lady Heralds in win over league rival

Posted on 14 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Mackenzie Lou slides into second base just before the tag is applied during Whittier Christian's 5-4 win over Valley Christian, Tuesday afternoon on the road.

Whittier Christian’s Mackenzie Lou slides into second base just before the tag is applied during Whittier Christian’s 5-4 win over Valley Christian, Tuesday afternoon on the road.

story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

After a reversed call prevented the Whittier Christian softball team from taking a lead in the seventh inning, Melissa Martene had had enough with the heat, scoring from second base on a routine groundout in the 10th inning to lift the Lady Heralds over rival Valley Christian, Tuesday afternoon at Valley Christian High.

The win evens the series between the two rival schools and also leaves open the possibility of a split league title between the two as Valley Christian leads by a half-game.

Melissa Martene led off the 10th inning with a double to centerfield. Celeste Adriano failed to advance her to third after she grounded out to shortstop. Katelyn Wagner drew a walk, putting runners on first and second base. Morgan Ryan hit a lazy grounder which normally would have gone unnoticed, but instead Martene broke for home.

“Dale always tells us, two outs, two bases, so I went for my two bases.” Martene said.

On a day where the girls were playing in heat in the 90’s, and started an hour later than expected, Martene was ready to go home.

“I was tired after the seventh inning, but our team pulled through, they really did,” she said. “We were clutch at bat, we each helped each out at the plate, we never gave up on each other, and that’s what it takes to win,”

In the top of the seventh inning, the Lady Heralds (15-10, 6-1) nearly broke the tie which could have prevented extra innings.

Hannah Gabriel led off the seventh inning with a single and Taylor Escobar singled. The two runners advanced on a wild pitch. With two outs, Mackenzie Lou hit a hard grounder to second baseman Nicole Parker, who bobbled the ball, but quickly recovered to fling the ball over to first base.

Whittier Christian's Katelyn Wagner throws a pitch during the Lady Heralds' 5-4 win over Valley Christian, Tuesday afternoon on the road.

Whittier Christian’s Katelyn Wagner throws a pitch during the Lady Heralds’ 5-4 win over Valley Christian, Tuesday afternoon on the road.

The umpire initially called Lou safe, but after yelling from the Crusader fans and a meeting with the home plate umpire, the call was changed, the run was wiped from the board, and the Heralds headed to the bottom of the seventh intent on protecting the tie.

“She was on way before the ball was there, so the game should have been over in the seventh inning,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach.

Valley Christian (8-14, 7-1) saw all of its offensive production from the first four batters in the lineup, but with two outs and the bases loaded, fifth batter and starting pitcher, Anna Collier stepped to the plate with a chance to give her team a victory.

Katelyn Wagner had pitched six strong innings at that point keeping the Crusaders to four runs. Determined to send the game into extra innings and give her team a chance to win, she struck out Collier to get out of the seventh inning. Wagner would finish having pitched eight-and-two-thirds innings.

The Lady Heralds got an unlikely spark from Lou in the fourth inning, while they were struggling to keep pace with the Lady Crusaders who were up 3-1 at the time.

“Every base means something, it’s another base, it’s another run,” Lou said. “You do everything for your team, it’s nothing from selfish ambition, it’s all for all of us.”

With two outs Lou hit a slow grounder and beat out the throw to first base. From there, she swiped second and moved to third on a wild pitch.

“It takes all the courage you have inside your body to do it,” Van Duyn said about stealing bases. “Once you make a decision, go for it, and she’s been doing it, with her speed, its paid off.”

After the game Lou struggled to speak but was elated about the crucial victory.

“This game gives me more of a rush than any other,” Lou said, “Not having won on this field for over eight years and then breaking that, it feels so amazing, I want to cry, it’s the greatest feeling in the world, knowing you accomplished something you set out to do.

With the victory the Heralds can share the league title with Valley Christian if they beat Maranatha on Thursday at home on Senior day.

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El Segundo’s quick start, strong finish is too much for Lady Heralds

Posted on 18 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian pitcher Hannah Gabriel was asked to make a relief appearance in an 8-1 loss to El Segundo, Friday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.

Whittier Christian pitcher Hannah Gabriel was asked to make a relief appearance in an 8-1 loss to El Segundo, Friday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.

CHECK BACK FOR UPDATED PHOTOS FROM THIS GAME!

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

After Thursday’s big win, the Whittier Christian softball team saw its momentum fall quickly in an 8-1 defeat at the hands of El Segundo, Friday afternoon at home in the second game of the Whittier Christian Tournament.

The Eagles turned two key hits into a 3-0 lead after the top of the first inning, while the defense behind pitcher McCall James did the rest.

“We just weren’t here today,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach. “We had 15 pop ups, which made it easy for them. We tell the kids every day that we need to make the defense work. If anything, at least this wasn’t league play.”

Katelyn Wagner was given the start for the Lady Heralds, but struggled with her command in the circle and found herself behind in counts.

To battle back, Wagner needed to throw strikes and the Eagles waited for their opportunities. Shannon Brooker drove home leadoff hitter Rhianna Rich from second base with an RBI single to open the scoring.

Three batters later, Julie Roach brought home two more with a line-drive single.

In the second inning, the Eagles extended the lead to 4-0 on an RBI groundout by Allison Tatnal. After another pair of singles, Van Duyn turned to Hannah Gabriel to slow down El Segundo’s offense.

The switch worked as Gabriel retired the first nine batters she faced, however with two outs in the fifth inning, the Eagles struck again with a two-run home run by Roach, who finished with four RBI on the day.

“They made the adjustments,” Van Duyn said. “I give them credit, they made the adjustments. We weren’t all there and momentum is a lot in this game, it made a big difference.”

The Eagles added two runs in the sixth inning with an RBI single by Brooker and a fielding error.

The Lady Heralds’ lone bright spot offensively was Morgan Ryan, who went 2-for-3 with a single and a solo home run in the fourth inning.

Whittier Christian finished with seven hits, but couldn’t string them together like it did on Thursday in a win over Long Beach Wilson.

“Morgan was on today, she played great defense and she gave us something at the plate,” Van Duyn said. “I wish everyone else was at that spot too.”

The Lady Heralds will be back in action tomorrow with two games, starting in the morning with a 10 a.m. game against Bloomfield Christian. The second game time will be determined by the result of the contest.

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Lady Heralds pull out all the stops, win big over Long Beach Wilson

Posted on 16 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Melissa Martene (shown against La Habra) had a productive day at the plate as the Lady Heralds defeated Long Beach Wilson 11-4 at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Whittier Christian’s Melissa Martene (shown against La Habra) had a productive day at the plate as the Lady Heralds defeated Long Beach Wilson 11-4 at home, Wednesday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian softball team pulled out a bag of tricks offensively and executed its way to an 11-4 victory over Long Beach Wilson in a time-limit shortened contest, Wednesday afternoon at home.

After taking five days off, the Lady Heralds were a bit slow out of the gates in the first round of their own tournament, but Hannah Gabriel sparked Whittier Christian with a three-run home run in the third inning.

In the fifth inning, the Lady Heralds were in peak form, batting around the order and scoring six runs before the game was stopped due to the hour-and-a-half time limit.

“I wanted to give them a little break, but you could see it in the first couple innings, they weren’t normal,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach. “But then they started to warm up and get back into it. A little break sometimes helps.”

Shortstop Melissa Martene led the way and finished 2-for-3 at the plate. She scored three times and drove in a pair with a double down the left field line in the fifth inning.

“Our energy and consistency was big, we drove each other in, so it was definitely a group effort,” Martene said. “We got the key hits we needed.”

Celeste Adriano enjoyed a 3-for-3 day, while Cameron McLean scored two runs and earned three walks.

The Lady Heralds scored in a handful of ways, including a bases-loaded squeeze play, Gabriel’s home run, timely hits and a couple runs on wild pitches.

Whittier Christian (10-7) also used sacrifice bunts and a well-executed hit-and-run play with Erica Romo providing the opposite field base hit.

Ultimately, the only thing that stopped the Lady Heralds in the fifth inning was the home plate umpire, who called the game eight minutes past the time limit.

“We have to teach the kids to be resilient and to have a short memory,” said Michael Hunter, Wilson head coach. “That’s a well-coached team, they swing the bat well. Give credit to them, when you put a ball in play, things can happen. They pulled a bases-loaded squeeze and I tip my cap to that. They executed.”

With the game tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning, McLean walked and Martene singled before Gabriel sent a pitch from Wilson starter Emilee Hoppe over the left-center field fence to give Whittier Christian a 4-1 lead.

Later in the inning, Adriano came home on an error to make it 5-1.

The Bruins (9-7-1) responded in the top of the fourth inning with a three-run homer of its own off the bat of Zoe Stavrou. The shot was preceded by a pair of walks issued to Arisa Cleaveland and Jennifer Tobar.

“She’s a big time player,” Hunter said of Stavrou, who is committed to the University of North Dakota. “I’m proud of my girls, they battled. It’s just one of those days. We’re in the middle of league games, so you have to be real careful with what you do in these tournament games with the bigger league games coming. That being said, we started a lineup to try to beat them.”

But it was in the fifth inning that the Lady Heralds looked to be back offensively after the five-day break.

Katelyn Wagner, Romo and Morgan Ryan loaded the bases with consecutive singles. Two batters later, Lou put down a squeeze bunt, allowing Romo to score from third base on a late throw.

“Execution was good, I really wanted to focus on bunting today, I wasn’t sure what we were going to run into, but I wanted to see what the kids could do in tight situations,” Van Duyn said. “They did it, I’m happy with the way they came out today.”

Ryan and Taylor Escobar would come around on wild pitches before Martene’s two-RBI double made the score 10-4. Hannah Gabriel then drove Martene home for the game’s final run with a groundout.

“We definitely need to work on our squeeze bunts, but our girls are on fire with the bats, it’s awesome,” Martene said. “Execution-wise, we’re just going up looking for strikes and took advantage of our opportunities.”

Wilson leadoff hitter Kylie Yanez and Karissa Hamilton finished with two hits each, while Tobar scored two runs for the Bruins, who will play a Moore League game Friday afternoon.

The Lady Heralds will resume the Whittier Christian Tournament on Friday with a matchup against El Segundo at home at 2 p.m.

“We just have to keep the confidence level up,” Martene said. “If we continue to go out there with confidence, we should be fine.”

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Lady Heralds slug their way past Village Christian in shortened contest

Posted on 08 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Erica Romo (shown against La Serna) hit a two-RBI single as part of a six-run fourth inning and the Lady Heralds defeated Village Christian 11-1 at home, Tuesday afternoon.

Whittier Christian’s Erica Romo (shown against La Serna) hit a two-RBI single as part of a six-run fourth inning and the Lady Heralds defeated Village Christian 11-1 at home, Tuesday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

After falling in a nonleague contest last Thursday, the Whittier Christian softball team jumped back into Olympic League play Tuesday afternoon, making quick work of Village Christian in an 11-1 five-inning victory that took just under an hour to complete.

Whittier Christian powered six runs in the fourth inning and won via the mercy rule when Village Christian failed to score in the fifth inning.

The Lady Heralds’ Morgan Ryan led the way, going 3-for-3, finishing a home run short of the cycle while driving in four runs.

“I just kept getting good pitches and I just drove them out, I had a pretty good day today,” Ryan said. “I came in pretty confident, I’ve been doing well with the bat lately and I thought I could continue that.”

Whittier Christian head coach Dale Van Duyn made switches in the field, putting Katelyn Wagner in the circle for the first time this season.

Wagner threw five innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits while striking out two batters.

In addition, Wagner hit a solo home run in the third inning and reached base on three plate appearances.

“I just knew I needed to get it done, it’s the first game I pitched since I got injured, I knew I needed to get ground balls,” Wagner said. “I wanted to move the ball from corner to corner, inside and out. Having my defense behind me constantly talking made me feel more confident too and the home run felt really nice.”

Taylor Escobar moved from her normal spot at catcher to first base, Celeste Adriano started at catcher and Hannah Gabriel started in left field.

“Hannah’s been throwing great for us, but if something were to happen, I need to have that second kid,” Van Duyn said. “Plus we have a tournament coming up and I can’t have Hannah pitching all four games, so we tried some different things today to see what we could do with different kids.”

The Lady Heralds (9-6, 2-0) started quickly. Melissa Martene led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hannah Gabriel.

Later in the inning, Village Christian starting pitcher Taylor Hughes loaded the bases with two hit batters and a walk.

Ryan cleared the bases with a line-drive triple to right field.

Wagner’s solo shot put the Lady Heralds up 5-0 in the third inning and Whittier Christian threatened for more, but Ryan was gunned out at home on a strong throw by Lady Crusaders’ center fielder Alyssa Alves to end the inning.

The Lady Heralds put up six runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by a 2-RBI single by Erica Romo. Celeste Adriano and Ryan also drove home runs in the inning.

“The loss we took against Calvary Chapel, we should have won, we had every opportunity to win that game,” Van Duyn said. “Every game is different, we just want to go out and play. No matter who we’re playing, we want to play like it’s a championship game.”

Village Christian (5-12, 0-1) scored its lone run in the fourth inning on a throwing error by Martene, which allowed Emma Wilson to score from second base.

The Lady Heralds will ride the momentum into another nonleague contest tomorrow afternoon at California High in Whittier at 3:15 p.m.

“They hit the ball well, we’ve averaged more than five runs per game and that’s a lot of hitting,” Van Duyn said. “We just want to continue to work on baserunning, but our girls are walking to the plate with some confidence, knowing they can hit the ball.”

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Athlete Spotlight: Celeste Adriano’s last-game mindset is key in leading Lady Heralds

Posted on 31 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Senior Celeste Adriano follows through after ripping a double against La Serna on March 25. Adriano leads the team with a .611 batting average, six home runs and 22 runs batted in through 12 games this season.

Senior Celeste Adriano follows through after ripping a double against La Serna on March 25. Adriano leads the team with a .611 batting average, six home runs and 22 runs batted in through 12 games this season.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

On a team that has shown plenty of offensive firepower over the course of its nonleague schedule, no one has had quite as hot a start as Celeste Adriano has for the Whittier Christian softball team.

In addition to her gaudy offensive numbers, the senior has shown plenty of flexibility in the field, playing just about every position in the field for the Lady Heralds this season.

“Even from the start, we’ve had that mentality that this is the last time we get a chance to start off strong,” Celeste said. “I think it’s made me push even more because this is my last chance and I want to make it the best.”

A transfer into the Whittier Christian program from Rosary last year, Celeste admitted it took a little bit of time to get acclimated with her new surroundings, but after a little time, the program feels like family to her now.

As a result of her hard work, dedication and belief in her teammates, she was chosen as one of the captains for this year’s team.

“She puts a lot of work in, she’s been a blessing for us since she came into the program,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach. “And she fit right in. She’s a leader without saying much and that’s what I like about her. She earned her role by what she does on and off the field. She’s doing what it takes to get to the next level.”

As a captain, she has led in every way possible, starting with her work on the field.

Through 12 nonleague games this season, the senior leads the team with a .611 batting average, six home runs and 22 runs batted in.

Those numbers have included a number of momentum-changing hits in key situations.

“I knew she could swing the stick, but sometimes they just really see the ball,” Van Duyn said. “It was about two months ago, she just walked up to the plate with a lot of confidence and that’s half the game right there. Now she looks at me and she has it in her eyes.”

In the team’s final nonleague game against Gahr last Thursday, Celeste’s two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning broke a 7-7 tie and proved to be the game-winner.

While Celeste says she didn’t change anything in regards to her approach at the plate, she believes that remaining calm while in the batter’s box has been a big help.

“I just feel calmer and I have a little more confidence than I did last year,” she said. “I’m just relaxed, calm and I hit.”

But while her offensive numbers stand out, what appeals most to her head coach is her flexibility and her willingness to provide whatever the team needs in the field.

Primarily playing left field, Celeste has played upwards of three positions in the same game, going two different infield spots to left field in one game and going from catcher to second base in the following game.

During travel ball season, Celeste’s primary position is catcher.

Celeste Adriano has played every position on the field for the Lady Heralds this season, including left field, where she robbed La Habra's Taylor Pierce of a home run in a nonleague game at La Habra on March 18.

Celeste Adriano has played every position on the field for the Lady Heralds this season, including left field, where she robbed La Habra’s Taylor Pierce of a home run in a nonleague game at La Habra on March 18.

“I’ve played Celeste at every position this year, she’s a true utility player,” Van Duyn said. “I could plug her in to any position and she could get the job done. You can’t say that about most kids. She’s a good catcher and I wish I could plug her into the infield, but we needed an outfielder and she just smiled and said ‘OK, if that’s where you need me’.”

But Celeste’s mindset during her senior year has made the difference in her performance through nonleague play.

While Celeste spends the offseason playing plenty of travel ball and working on her craft, this high school season has had a higher priority.

Knowing it’s her final year to play high school softball, Celeste approaches every game as if it’s her last with her Whittier Christian teammates.

“I work hard on the field and this is my family,” she said. “I think every game is important and so I treat every game as if it’s my last. Yes, sometimes I say that I’ll always have another game, but this year I’m not thinking like that. We have to treat every game as if it’s a La Habra or a La Serna and we have to go in with a mentality that we’re going to win.”

However, Celeste’s softball career will not end after high school as the senior signed her letter of intent last November, to play at San Francisco State.

One of the big influences that helped in Celeste’s decision with San Francisco State was Gators’ head coach Christina Byrne.

“She’s sort of like [Coach] Dale, she’s like a friend,” Celeste said. “I know she’ll push me, but I know that I can talk to her too. I went to her camps and during travel ball, she was at all those camps as well. I also love the city, it’s right there, I think that was great for me.”

With the signing done, Celeste says a big weight has been lifted off her shoulders knowing that she already has a plan in place for college.

Now the senior can breathe easier, have more fun with her teammates and continue keeping that calm demeanor at the plate.

When it comes to role models, Celeste said that her parents are always pushing her to be better, but she also takes in little bits from all aspects of her life, including her friends and coaches.

“My parents are a huge part of that, with the way they push me,” she said. “There’s a lot of little role models that I have, including Coach Dale and my friends, they always play a part in my life. There’s not one particular person that I look up to completely, but there’s little things all around that I look up to.”

While in school, Celeste enjoys history and said that her teachers have made the biggest difference in piquing her interest in the subject. She also enjoys poetry and reading.

And while she says softball is her life, on the rare chance she’s not practicing or studying, Celeste enjoys hanging out with friends, eating or catching up on sleep.

But while she’s on the field she’s calm, collected and enjoying her senior season to the fullest with a small number of goals in mind for the remainder of her final high school season.

“Everything I have is for my team and I want CIF, that’s what I want,” Celeste said. “Maybe for me, I’d like to finish higher than second team [All-League], but other than that, everything else is for the team, I want a league championship, I want CIF and that’s pretty much it.”

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Lady Heralds persevere, beat Gahr in slugfest at home

Posted on 27 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Hannah Gabriel homers off Gahr pitcher Deidra Genera in the first inning of the Lady Heralds' 9-7 nonleague win over Gahr at home, Thursday afternoon.

Whittier Christian’s Hannah Gabriel homers off Gahr pitcher Deidra Genera in the first inning of the Lady Heralds’ 9-7 nonleague win over Gahr at home, Thursday afternoon. By Erik Markus, La Habra Journal

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

After falling to La Serna by mercy rule on Tuesday, the Whittier Christian softball team shook it off quickly and responded by slugging it out against Gahr at home in a 9-7 victory, Thursday afternoon.

While Hannah Gabriel kept the Lady Heralds even with the Gladiators early on, it was Celeste Adriano’s two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning that broke a 7-7 tie and all but sealed the win for Whittier Christian.

“It happened at the right time, I knew I had to go into that at-bat calm,” Adriano said. “Usually there’s a little more pressure, but I knew what I had to do and it happened. I feel it’s all-around, I always have to step up, this is my senior year.”

Adriano’s shot was the fifth home run from both teams combined in a game that was back-and-forth throughout.

Despite giving up seven runs, five of them earned, Gabriel battled for the complete game in the circle and retired the side in order in the seventh inning to preserve the win.

“I just had to stay focused and within my game, as well as trust my fielders,” Gabriel said. “I had to believe that if the ball did go out there that they would have my back all the time.”

But Gabriel was as important at the plate as she was in the circle. After Gahr freshman Malia Quarles put the Gladiators up with a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, Gabriel responded with a two-run home run to left in the bottom half.

When Quarles hit a second two-run shot to center field in the third inning, Gabriel repeated the feat again, hitting another home run to left field in the bottom half of the inning as the teams remained deadlocked after three innings at 4-4.

“I never really look to hit home runs, this is the first year I’ve hit a home run,” Gabriel said. “Usually I’m just a base-hit hitter, but the weight room has made a difference. The home runs were big, I wasn’t trying to swing for the fences, I just waited for the right pitch and swung.”

Gabriel finished 3-for-3 at the plate with two home runs, four runs scored and four runs driven in.

After Quarles’ first two at-bats, Whittier Christian head coach Dale Van Duyn elected to walk the power-hitting freshman for the remainder of the contest.

“I have a lot of respect for her and that’s why I walked her,” Van Duyn said. “She can flat-out hit the ball and I have to respect a player like that, but it takes a team to win. [Gahr] is a good team, I have nothing bad to say about their team, they’re a good team.”

Gahr (7-8) reclaimed the lead in the fourth inning when Alyssa Cuffia drove home Celeste Gonzalez with an RBI-double to left field.

However, the Lady Heralds again battled back, this time with small-ball.

After an error put runners on second and third base, Katelyn Wagner laid down a squeeze bunt to bring home Gabriel from third base, which tied the game.

Erica Romo followed with an RBI-single and, later in the inning, Mackenzie Lou also drove home a run with a single as Whittier Christian took a 7-5 lead after five innings.

“It’s not just the long ball that wins games, we have to execute,” Van Duyn said. “We worked on a lot of things with a lot of different kids and it showed today. I was really proud of them, we worked on our bunts and we worked on our hitting. It’s a good win for the team.”

But the Gladiators had one more response as Alyssa Rodriguez scored on a throwing error and Cuffia scored on a sacrifice fly by Sabrina Quarles to tie up the score.

Adriano delivered the exclamation point with her line drive homer to center field with no one out in the bottom of the sixth inning to give Whittier Chrisitan a big win before league play.

“It felt really good after getting killed earlier in the week,” Adriano said. “This was a team that we were equal to and we did what we had to do to win, which was nice.”

Whittier Christian (7-5) opens up the Olympic League with a road game at Heritage Christian, next Tuesday afternoon.

“You can’t get a better game before league,” Van Duyn said. “If you could plan a game to play before league started, this would be it right here.”

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Lady Heralds no match for highly-ranked La Serna

Posted on 25 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Melissa Martene robs La Serna's Dominique Mejia of a hit with a diving catch in the second inning of the Lady Heralds' 12-0 loss, Tuesday at La Serna. Photos by Erik Markus, La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian’s Melissa Martene robs La Serna’s Dominique Mejia of a hit with a diving catch in the second inning of the Lady Heralds’ 12-0 loss, Tuesday at La Serna. Photos by Erik Markus, La Habra Journal

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Going up against the top-seeded team in CIF-SS Division 3, the Whittier Christian softball team couldn’t contain La Serna, falling 12-0 in five innings, Tuesday afternoon at La Serna High.

The Lady Heralds had no answer for La Serna starting pitcher Jamie Wren, who allowed just one hit in five innings of work.

Defensively, Whittier Christian (6-5) was uneasy and misjudged line drives which, without the help of an outfield fence, allowed the Lady Lancers to put up runs.

“If we had basic plays, it would be 6-0, but we missed those plays,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach. “I think that has a lot to do with my outfielders being hesitant to go in for the ball because they didn’t have the fence behind them. They’re a good team, no doubt about it, I think we can take a lot from this game.”

La Serna leadoff hitter Taylor Becerra singlehandedly did half of her team’s damage, batting 3-for-3 with a double, triple and a three-run home run to go with four runs scored and six more driven in.

The Lady Lancers (10-1) put up 14 hits against Lady Heralds’ starter Hannah Gabriel and only got stronger with runners on base.

“Right now our girls are on a roll,” said Mike Reed, La Serna head coach. “They’re seeing the ball well, hitting it well and just getting after it. They want it and they’re out there to prove to everybody what we can do.”

After being held in check for the first two innings, La Serna erupted for 11 runs over the final three innings.

Whittier Christian's Celeste Adriano launches a Jamie Wren pitch into center field for a double in the first inning of the Lady Heralds' 12-0 loss, Tuesday at La Serna.

Whittier Christian’s Celeste Adriano launches a Jamie Wren pitch into center field for a double in the first inning of the Lady Heralds’ 12-0 loss, Tuesday at La Serna.

In contrast, the Lady Heralds had runners on first and second base in the first inning thanks to a double by Celeste Adriano and a walk issued to Katelyn Wagner.

“We had a few hits, but we didn’t have the key hits to go with it,” Van Duyn said.

The two were the only baserunners of the day for Whittier Christian as Wren settled, striking out six batters and walking none.

Wren helped her own cause by driving in two runs with her first two at-bats.

“She really worked it today,” Reed said of Wren. “And Taylor nearly hit for the cycle, but all the girls did a fantastic job today. Those two were just outstanding.”

For Van Duyn, despite the lopsided loss, the game still serves as a learning tool for Olympic League play, which starts April 1 at Heritage Christian.

Whittier Christian hosts Gahr for the team’s final nonleague game before league play, Thursday afternoon.

“They’re another extremely good team,” Van Duyn said. “Overall, I definitely think we’re getting better right before league and hopefully CIF.”

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