Tag Archive | "Lady Raiders"

Lady Raiders retooled, refocused  and ready for season

Tags: , ,

Lady Raiders retooled, refocused and ready for season

Posted on 05 August 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Lady Raiders Volleyball team took steps towards establishing themselves as a threat in Freeway League last season.
Sonora’s finished with  a 6-4 league record, and now look to build on their success.
The Lady Raiders welcome back  two of last season’s stars, Nicole Fraga and Allie Beattie.
This year the hope is  that the duo will be joined by a more balanced and deep supporting cast.
“We have a lot of girls with three, four years varsity experience, highlighted with Nicole Fraga and Allie Beattie,” said Andrew Johnson, Raiders head coach.
Last year Beattie was forced to sit out the first month of the season, due to CIF eligibility rules after transferring from Troy High School.
However it did not take Beattie long to establish herself as one of  the top outside hitters in the league.  Despite only playing 22 sets for the Raiders, her 128 kills was second on the team (Fraga was first). She lead the team averaging nearly 6 kills per set. With her senior season ahead, she is poised to be an impact player for the Raiders.
“It takes a lot of pressure off the girls, with those two girls, there’s a lot that we rely on them, and they have the strong shoulders to carry the load,” Johnson said.
With Beattie sidelined in the first part of last season, Nicole Fraga took on the role of star and leader, guiding her team through the preseason and their first league game.
Incoming senior Fraga lead the Lady Raiders with 291 kills last season and  also established herself as a top outside hitter and versatile player for the Raiders.
The Raiders intend to take their next step with a focus on defense and ball control.
The team has  made defensive technique a point of emphasis in practice, because Johnson believes offense can come easy.
“Defense comes down to effort and wanting to keep that ball alive,” Johnson said.
The Raiders’ improved ball control he expects should speed up their offense so they can move from defense to offense quickly. He has decided to hold off on implementing offensive plays until they get into the season.
The Raiders beat Sunny Hills, Fullerton, and Buena Park, but were unable to get past La Habra and Troy last season. This year Johnson said he expects that to change and the Raiders as a viable threat for a league title.
However, with that as a goal, Johnson continues to keep the players focused on one match at a time.
Johnson has the Lady Raiders focused on bringing a top-notch effort and work ethic, rather than looking over their shoulders at Troy and La Habra.
“As soon as you start looking on the other side of the net and taking away what you need to do, all of a sudden we’re playing catch up,” Johnson said.  “It’s up to them. We want to set the standard by just a good work ethic and making sure we do the things that we do well, and whatever weaknesses we have we cover that in practice.”
Johnson said that the Raiders focus on hard work ethic will help to create  balance. Rather than relying too heavily on Fraga and Beattie, they  intend to find success in their depth.
“Injuries happen and you have to be able to adjust,” Johnson added. “What’s nice is having depth, having girls that can come in off the bench with experience and get the job done.”
An improvement from last year will be by the Raiders’ middle and right hitters, along with an improvement in back row passing.
“We have the ability to be a nice well-rounded team,” Johnson said.
With strong leaders, a large number of returning players and a commitment to continued improvement, Johnson is optimistic for the Lady Raiders’ success this season.
“We’re going to have a really good product to show, out there.”

Comments Off on Lady Raiders retooled, refocused and ready for season

Web_SonoraVball_5439

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Sonora looks to successful season

Posted on 13 August 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Erik Marcus
La Habra Journal

Entering into his third year with Sonora Volleyball, head coach Andy Johnson has a lot to be excited for. IMG_5247
The Lady Raiders season did not get off to the start they wanted last year, but finished with plenty of momentum.
“The season ended too short,” Johnson said.
The Raiders captured three wins in a row sweeping them in three sets to finish the season 9-15 with an even 5-5 record in the Freeway League.
This year the future looks bright. The Raiders return 10 players from last years squad headlined by this years captains, Senior Shannon Kakuk, and Juniors Emily Sonny and Nicole Fraga.
Joining this years team is a transfer from league champion Troy High school Allie Beattie.
“She’s an outside hitter, I think of all the players in the North County or even in the Orange County area … I wouldn’t want any other player.
With Frags and Beattie, the Raiders will have two of the top outside hitters in the league
“This is (Frags’) third year outside, so we have two girls who can really put the ball away and are really explosive.
So far the team’s high expectations are producing results. The Lady Raiders went 8-2 in the El Dorado summer league.
With the progress he has seen, Johnson sets his sight on a league title.
“The success we saw over the summer is an indication that with hard work, that’s something that is possible.” Johnson said.
Due to Beattie’s transfer she will be forced to sit out the first 30 days of the season, but Johnson expects to see her make an impact just as league play begins.
This summer coach Johnson wanted to see his middle blockers improve and has seen improvements for Vadia Metchkoff, Alexandra Spolsdoff, and Erin Murphy.
“Those three girls not only filled the role, but they showed us that they can provide offense and definitely their role on defense was huge.
The Lady Raider bench should be improved since 10 players are returning with prior Varsity experience.Web_SonoraVball_5439
Last year’s experience has also helped these ladies develop mentally.
“The girls are tough as nails,” Johnson said, “They have a great demeanor; their work ethic is top notch.”
Johnson has seen his veteran leaders provide leadership and a positive example for anyone new to varsity.
“It’s the returning girls that lead the way with how hard they work, and then the new girls come in, and really have no choice but to follow their lead,” Johnson said.
As Johnson reflected on some of the differences between the girls this year and those same ones the year before he was confident they are more prepared to deal with the season’s rigors.
“A lot of these girls were quiet at the start of last year, coming from JV to varsity is a big jump, the pace of play, expectations, communicating everything,” he added.
“We had three matches least year where we were leading two games to none or to two games to one and end up losing in five,” He explained. “So it was the last step, and I really think experiencing these heartbreaks and setbacks will now benefit us this year.
With huge improvements in sight, Johnson encourages fans to come out and watch them play. He said fans can join the Rowdy Raiders section and make sure not to miss games against La Habra and Troy.

Comments Off on Sonora looks to successful season

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lady Raiders outdone by Crescenta Valley in Wild Card round

Posted on 19 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora's Audrey Castro scored a run in the fourth inning and drove home another in the fifth inning, but it wasn't enough as Sonora fell to Crescenta Valley 6-3 in the Wild Card round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, Monday afternoon on the road.

Sonora’s Audrey Castro scored a run in the fourth inning and drove home another in the fifth inning, but it wasn’t enough as Sonora fell to Crescenta Valley 6-3 in the Wild Card round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, Monday afternoon on the road.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

LA CRESCENTA – The absence of shortstop Chelsea Purcell could be felt by the Sonora softball team in the first two innings of its CIF-SS Division 3 Wild Card game against Crescenta Valley.

Down 4-0, the sophomore was inserted on defense in the bottom half of the third inning and the tension of her teammates seemed to lift as the Lady Raiders scored three runs in their half of the fourth and fifth innings to make it a one-run game.

However, Lady Falcons leadoff hitter Hailey Cookson erased all that momentum with her second home run of the game, a two-run shot to center field in the bottom of the fifth inning to lift Crescenta Valley past Sonora 6-3, Monday afternoon.

“That was the nail in the coffin,” said Michelle Rodriguez, Sonora head coach, of the home run. “The girls still answered back a little, but we just didn’t have enough punch in the end.”

Despite sending the game-tying run to the plate with two outs in the seventh inning, Audrey Castro grounded out to Crescenta Valley starting pitcher Olivia Thayer to end the ball game and Sonora’s season.

The Lady Falcons (16-11-1) squared the ball up well off Sonora starting pitcher Sam Casanas, totaling 12 hits in the ball game. Cookson led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run to right center field.

Taylor Hill and Sydnee Wells added RBI-singles and Crescenta Valley’s first six batters reached base with four hits and two walks.

“I talked with [Sam] before the game if she was nervous or afraid, because they have some big time hitters,” Rodriguez said. “She said that she was just struggling today. She looked a little defeated. As important as composure and attitude is, she doesn’t always show it, but she wasn’t scared either, it’s just her inexperience and being young.”

Crescenta Valley added an RBI-single by catcher Rachael Abboud in the second inning for a quick 4-0 lead.

Purcell missed the first two innings for disciplinary reasons, but the tides turned when she was reinserted. Crescenta Valley tested her immediately with a sharp grounder, but the sophomore shortstop handled it with ease, showing range and a strong arm to retire the leadoff batter in the third inning.

In the top of the fourth inning, Sonora got to Thayer. Audrey Castro singled, reached second base on an error and was sacrificed to third base. Purcell was hit by a pitch and stole second base before Madison Gimpl knocked them both in with an infield single.

In the fifth inning, Castro hit a double deep to left field, scoring Katie Amaral from second base to cut the deficit to one run.

“I think we learned a lot in the last week of the league season, we showed up late in both ball games,” Rodriguez said. “We can’t try to make up four runs in the last two innings, we had to chip away and that’s what we did. We executed a gameplan, scored some runs and kept it close. We had two mistakes and that was the difference.”

With one out in the bottom half of the fifth inning, junior Calley Ellingford hit an infield single to set the stage for Cookson’s second home run, a line drive shot over the fence in center field.

Sonora’s season ends at 13-13, but the Lady Raiders program continued to move forward with the opportunity of competing in its first playoff game since 2009.

The Lady Raiders will lose four seniors in Castro, Amaral, Leandra Jew and Brandi Landino to graduation. All four seniors were starters for Sonora this season.

“I feel we accomplished a goal, definitely,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t feel like we met the potential of what could have been, I thought we could have done some special things this season, but all-in-all, I’m very proud of what the girls accomplished this season.”

Comments Off on Lady Raiders outdone by Crescenta Valley in Wild Card round

Tags: , , , ,

Athlete Spotlight: Sophomore Chelsea Purcell’s drive is helping Sonora into possible postseason

Posted on 14 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Photo by Erik Markus, La Habra Journal

Photo by Erik Markus, La Habra Journal

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Sonora’s Chelsea Purcell may not have endured the growing pains that some of her senior teammates did a couple years ago, but because of the sophomore’s competitive nature, she’s helping those seniors in an attempt to realize a goal of making the CIF playoffs.

Thanks in part to Chelsea’s surge at the plate, the Lady Raiders’ softball team finds itself in a four-way tie for the Freeway League lead with two games to play.

Two years ago, the varsity team had no seniors. Now the team is gunning for the league title, with games against city rival La Habra and Sunny Hills this week.

“I wanted to just step into a leadership role on the team and I wanted to be there and be the player the team needed me to be,” Chelsea said of her thoughts heading into this season. “Whether that meant at shortstop or hitting third or fourth in the lineup, I just wanted to contribute in any way I could for this team.”

Over the past two weeks, the Lady Raiders are 3-1 and were one out away from making it a 4-0 run and possibly sole possession of the league lead.

During that stretch, Chelsea’s overall play has contributed greatly. The sophomore went 9-for-17 with three home runs, two doubles, six runs scored and seven runs-batted-in.

Some of those hits have come in key situations, such as a three-run home run in the seventh inning against Troy to turn a one-run lead into a four-run cushion in a road contest, May 1.

Chelsea believes that her surge at the plate is a result of extra help she’s received from her father, Mo, at home.

“My dad has been home a lot more often and has been helping me with hitting the ball off the tee and going to the field and pitching to me,” Chelsea said. “He’s always taught me to see the ball, hit the ball and that calms me down at the plate. I think it’s helped a lot.”

In addition, Chelsea’s work at the shortstop position has also helped. The sophomore has not committed an error in her last six games and she’s only committed one error in Freeway League play this season.

“I’ve known Chelsea since she was five years old, she’s always been very competitive, it’s in her nature to want to win,” said Michelle Rodriguez, Sonora softball coach. “She’s known about the program for a while and she probably would have played a few years back if she could have, that’s just the type of competitor she is.”

Coming in to her sophomore season, Chelsea said she wanted to try and begin the process of stepping into a leadership role.

That extra motivation is paying off in the numbers, in which she leads the team in hits, doubles, home runs and RBI. She also ranks second in runs scored.

“It’s something special, this team has a lot of team chemistry and that has helped to the overall results a lot,” Chelsea said. “I always try to keep it on from beginning to end, my parents instilled that in me, no matter what happens, you have to keep going.”

However, Rodriguez said that while she’s impressed with Chelsea’s talent and her motivation to produce for her team, she admits that she would like to keep some of that potential pressure off her sophomore shortstop during the remainder of this season.

“Her ability is undeniable, but sometimes she carries a little too much pressure and that’s what we’re trying to bring down,” Rodriguez said. “We want to make sure that she doesn’t feel that pressure, she’s a sophomore and she’s definitely stepped up, but we want to make sure it’s not a burden on her. I threw her in the fire last year, but she’s been able to handle it and the difference has been leaps and bounds since last year.”

When it comes to the final weeks of her sophomore season, Chelsea said she just wants to keep producing to help her team close out the regular season and head into the playoffs.

“I just want to keep progressing,” she said. “Staying on it and working hard during practices is going to help me, so I have to keep on myself for that. As a team, we’re working well, we just want to keep up what we’re doing.”

When she’s not on the field or in the classroom, Chelsea still keeps her mind in the sport of softball by helping her niece, Jalen, who has recently started to play the game.

In the classroom, Chelsea carried a 4.3 Grade Point Average into the Spring semester and is working hard to maintain that as she approaches the end of the school year.

The sophomore enjoys studying AP European History as well as Chemistry.

“I really like Mrs. Appenrodt, she makes the class more personal and she’s helped me immensely with my academic career,” Chelsea said. “With Chemistry, Dr. Hawkins has definitely impacted me and has helped me grow as a sophomore, so I want to make sure they know I appreciate them.”

With the combination of her strong play and hard work in the classroom, Chelsea has already verbally committed to the University of Notre Dame earlier this year.

When it comes to role models, Chelsea said she receives an endless amount of support from her family.

“My parents (Mo and Pamela) have definitely impacted my life, if I have personal problems or troubles with academics, they’re always my motivators,” Chelsea said. “My sister has always been a role model since she played while I was growing up and my grandparents, they’re my biggest supporters in life.”

The sophomore has taken that support system and paid it forward to her teammates in the form of her bat and her glove, which continue to shine as the Lady Raiders continue to push for the playoffs.

“She really took to the learning expectations of the program and you can tell she wants that position,” Rodriguez said. “She sets a good example for everybody. It’s great knowing that we don’t have to start over with new faces having to step up after this season. I tell the girls all the time that you don’t have to have the title of Captain to be a leader and she’s gone with that.”

Comments Off on Athlete Spotlight: Sophomore Chelsea Purcell’s drive is helping Sonora into possible postseason

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

La Habra maintains tie for league lead with big win over rival Sonora

Posted on 13 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Taylor Pierce watches the flight of the ball after connecting for a home run in the first inning of the Lady Highlanders' 10-0 win over Sonora, Thursday afternoon at La Habra High.

Taylor Pierce watches the flight of the ball after making contact during the Lady Highlanders’ 10-0 win over Sonora, Thursday afternoon at La Habra High. Pierce homered in the first inning and hit an RBI-single later in the ball game. Photos by Jay Seidel, La Habra Journal

by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

The La Habra softball team enhanced their chances of a Freeway League championship with a 10-0 win over cross-town rival Sonora in six innings, Tuesday at La Habra High.

Heading into the game, both teams were in a four-way tie for first place in the league with two games remaining. The Lady Highlanders remain tied for first with a 6-3 record and the Lady Raiders fall back to 5-4.

La Habra (17-10, 6-3) jumped out to an early lead with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning by Taylor Pierce. After a leadoff walk to Jayanna Perez, Pierce hit a deep fly ball to left field that bounced off Taylor Clark’s glove and over the fence.

“That play was tough for us,” Sonora head coach Michelle Rodriguez said. “That was a ball that could have been caught and since we kept La Habra quiet for a good part of the game, it could have been 0-0 in the fifth inning.”

Sonora (13-11, 5-4) failed to execute offensively throughout the game. In the first, second and fourth innings they had runners in scoring position and failed to capitalize. In the first inning the Raiders had runners on second and third base with one out.

Chelsea Purcell grounded out to the shortstop to bring up Audrey Castro with two outs. Castro hit a line drive to second base but Hope Moreno laid out to make a diving stop and throw to first base for the third out.

In the second inning, Taylor Clark led off the inning with a triple but Emily Hauke’s bunt attempt was too firm and Clark was thrown out at home.

“Our offense failed to execute and we did not put runs on the board,” Rodriguez said. “It does not matter how many runs they score. If we do not score then we don’t have any chance at all to win the game.”

Samantha Casanas started the game for the Lady Raiders and kept La Habra quiet after the home run until the fifth inning.

Pierce came up with runners on first and second base and ripped an RBI-single into center field.

“That was a big win for us, especially on Senior Day,” Pierce said. “We knew we needed a win over our rivals to stay in the race for the Freeway League. For our bats to come out and do this for us today was awesome.”

Sonora's Chelsea Purcell throws home in an attempt to prevent a La Habra run from crossing the plate during the Lady Raiders 10-0 loss to La Habra, Thursday afternoon on the road.

Sonora’s Chelsea Purcell throws home in an attempt to prevent a La Habra run from crossing the plate during the Lady Raiders 10-0 loss to La Habra, Thursday afternoon on the road.

Two more singles led to three more runs and the Lady Highlanders had a 6-0 lead after five innings. Casanas was pulled after the fifth inning.

In her five innings, she gave up five runs on eight hits, with one walk and two strikeouts.

La Habra added four more runs in the sixth to come out with a win due to the mercy rule. Its starting pitcher, Janelle Rodriguez pitched the full six innings with no runs on three hits and two walks. She struck out six batters.

“We put ourselves in a good position today,” said La Habra head coach Frank McCarroll. “We can’t worry about the other teams. If we beat Buena Park, then we at least tie for first and that is all you can ask for.”

Sonora will end their league season with a tough matchup against Sunny Hills, Thursday afternoon at home.

“That game is our season,” Rodriguez said. “I told the girls that it us up to them. If they do not want our season to end Thursday then they will come out to play.”

The Lady Highlanders will take on the last place Buena Park Coyotes, Thursday on the road, for a share of their sixth consecutive Freeway League crown.

Comments Off on La Habra maintains tie for league lead with big win over rival Sonora

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Lady Raiders rejoin top ranks in Freeway League with big win over Buena Park

Posted on 09 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora's Sam Casanas threw three shutout innings before earning a rest after pitching nine innings against Fullerton on Tuesday. Sonora defeated Buena Park 11-0 in six innings, Thursday afternoon.

Sonora’s Sam Casanas threw three shutout innings before earning a rest after pitching nine innings against Fullerton on Tuesday. Sonora defeated Buena Park 11-0 in six innings, Thursday afternoon.

by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

The Sonora softball team kept their hopes of a Freeway League championship alive with an 11-0 victory over Buena Park, Thursday afternoon at Sonora High.

The Raiders’ (13-10, 5-3) bats woke up in a big way as they clubbed four home runs in the game.

“I really liked our approach at the plate,” said Michelle Rodriguez, Sonora head coach. “I really wanted the girls to focus on sitting back on pitches and getting something to drive. They did a really good job of that today.”

Due to the ten-run mercy rule, the Lady Raiders finished off the Coyotes on Mekenzie Lombardo’s two-run home run to center field. Lombardo was 2-2 with two runs and two RBI.

The Coyotes kept the Raiders quiet for the first two innings but the floodgates opened starting in the third inning. Leandra Jew started things off with a walk. She then stole second and came home on a single by Zoe Juarez. Shortly thereafter, Juarez stole second and came home on another single by Katie Amaral.

Chelsea Purcell launched a two-run bomb to left field to make the lead 4-0.

Sonora added another run in the bottom of the fourth inning on a leadoff home run by Madison Gimpl.

The Raiders expanded on their 5-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth with three more runs. Taylor Clark, Emily Hauke and Mena Aguilar all picked up a RBI hit in the inning.

Sonora headed into the bottom of the sixth needing two runs for the mercy, and they got three runs on three pitches. Amaral led off the inning with a home run to center field, Purcell followed her with an infield single before Lombardo’s home run, which acted as a walkoff hit.

The Raiders got two solid pitching performances. Samantha Casanas started the game and went three innings while only giving up two hits and striking out two batters. Cristina Garcia came in and pitched the last three with three hits and two strikeouts.

“Sam looked a little tired today and that is why we took her out,” Rodriguez said. “She pitched nine innings in our last game so we did not want to get her sore. Garcia came in and closed the door for us.”

Sonora now sits in a four-way tie atop the Freeway League standings with Sunny Hills, Fullerton and La Habra. All four are 5-3.

“We are not too worried about the standings,” Rodriguez said. “All we are focusing on now is beating La Habra on Tuesday. They are our big rivals. We have said from the beginning that our goals this year were to beat La Habra and to make the playoffs.”

Comments Off on Lady Raiders rejoin top ranks in Freeway League with big win over Buena Park

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lady Raiders come close, but fall to Fullerton with league lead on the line

Posted on 07 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora's Chelsea Purcell gave the Lady Raiders an early 2-0 lead with an RBI-triple in the third inning, but Sonora fell to Fullerton 5-4 in nine innings, Tuesday afternoon on the road.

Sonora’s Chelsea Purcell gave the Lady Raiders an early 2-0 lead with an RBI-triple in the third inning, but Sonora fell to Fullerton 5-4 in nine innings, Tuesday afternoon on the road.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

With an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the Freeway League, the Sonora softball team stumbled late and fell to Fullerton 5-4 in nine innings, Tuesday afternoon at Fullerton High.

The win puts the Lady Indians in sole possession of first place and creates a jumbled mess in the form of a four-way tie for second place with all teams at 4-3.

The Lady Raiders twice took a two-run lead, the second time jumping ahead 4-2 after the top half of the fifth inning.

However, the Lady Indians remained resilient, pulling within one run with back-to-back doubles by Alex Castillo and Brisa Pennington.

In the late innings, Fullerton’s Amanda Flores was clutch, providing both the game-tying RBI in the seventh inning and the game-winning RBI in the ninth inning.

One out away from sealing a 4-3 victory in the seventh inning, the Lady Indians struck for three consecutive base hits, the third by Flores scoring Castillo from second base.

Two innings later, Flores was up again with Castillo on third base. The junior, who also took over in the pitching circle during the fifth inning, singled to right field to bring home Castillo for the walk off win.

Leandra Jew provided a lift at the leadoff spot for the Lady Raiders as she reached base in four of her five plate appearances and scored three runs.

Katie Amaral finished 2-for-3 with two RBI, driving in two runs with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a single in the fifth inning. Jew came around to score in the third inning on a triple by Chelsea Purcell, which gave the Lady Raiders a 2-0 lead.

Pennington was hit by a pitch to start the Fullerton half of the fourth inning and Flores singled before Missy Poti brought them both home with a double to tie up the ball game.

Sonora responded with three consecutive singles to start the fifth inning. Jew came home on a throwing error by Fullerton catcher Ally Houser and Amaral singled home Zoe Juarez to give Sonora a 4-2 lead.

The Lady Raiders will try to get back on track with a league game against Buena Park at home, Thursday afternoon.

Comments Off on Lady Raiders come close, but fall to Fullerton with league lead on the line

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sonora battles back, earns season sweep of Troy with late charge

Posted on 01 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora's Chelsea Purcell provided quick defense and a big bat, going 2-for-4 with a three-run home run in the seventh inning as the Lady Raiders defeated Troy 9-4 on the road, Thursday.

Sonora’s Chelsea Purcell provided quick defense and a big bat, going 2-for-4 with a three-run home run in the seventh inning as the Lady Raiders defeated Troy 9-4 on the road, Thursday.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

After allowing a four-run second inning, the Sonora girls softball team wasn’t deterred, taking back the lead in the sixth inning and running away in the seventh for a decisive 9-4 victory over Troy, Thursday afternoon on the road.

With the win, coupled with Fullerton’s defeat of La Habra, the Lady Raiders now find themselves in a three-way tie for the Freeway League lead after a big week. Sonora defeated Sunny Hills on the road, 5-1 on Tuesday afternoon.

On Thursday, it was Chelsea Purcell and Audrey Castro providing the big hits for Sonora.

“Early on in the game, I was really anxious and [Troy pitcher Miranda Trinidad] kept throwing me low and away, so the plan was just to see the ball in all the way,” Purcell said. “My dad says it all the time, see the ball, hit the ball.”

Immediately following Troy’s four-run second inning, Castro brought the Lady Raiders back within one run with a two-run home run to deep right center field.

Despite missing an opportunity with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, Sonora’s bench came in to give the Lady Raiders the lead in the sixth inning.

Ashley Diaz hit a double to right center field, driving in Taylor Clark for the game-tying run. However, Diaz injured her right knee sliding into second base and Mena Aguilar-gaxiola, in a pinch-run situation, scored on a pinch-hit single by Emily Hauke to give Sonora a 5-4 lead.

“We’ve had some injuries, we had a new third baseman in today and it’s a testament to the depth that we have,” said Michelle Rodriguez, Sonora head coach. “We hadn’t started our nine until the start of league, so they’ve had experience. I think it’s the hardest thing to do to come off the bench and hit on a moment’s notice, but they came through.”

Purcell gave the Lady Raiders (12-9, 4-2) enough insurance in the top of the seventh inning with a three-run home run to left field. Madison Gimpl scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Christina Garcia before Casanas and the defense closed the door for the win.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, Troy (13-9, 3-3) responded with four runs in the second inning. Two runs scored on a sacrifice fly by Brianna Sanchez when a throw to third base went into the Lady Warriors’ dugout.

Two batters later, Ryann Ferguson hit a two-run home run to right-center field on the first pitch she saw from Casanas for a 4-1 lead.

“I felt like if we stayed aggressive [at the plate], which we were early on, we could get some positive things happening,” said Marlon Buttram, Troy head coach. “For whatever reason, we quit being aggressive and there’s not much you can do at that point except live with the results.”

However, after the inning, Rodriguez had a message for her team.

“We know we have to take it from teams, they’re not going to just give it to us,” Rodriguez said. “So after that inning, I told the girls ‘What part of showing up did you not understand?’ They took that one run and slapped us in the face with it, this was a battle and we fought.”

Casanas and the defense responded, allowing just three hits past the second inning. In the fourth inning, with runners on second and third base, Purcell threw home on a ground ball and Gimpl applied the tag to keep the score at 4-3.

Leandra Jew ended the threat by making a running catch in center field as Troy stranded a runner at third base.

Purcell also made a barehanded play to retire Hailey Danko to lead off the third inning, while Jew chased down five fly balls in center field.

“We really wanted to calm the defense and make the outs,” Purcell said of the team’s mindset after the second inning. “I think once we got off track, but we leveled our heads together and really came together as a team. Once we do that, we communicate really well and it’s a huge help.”

Troy will play Buena Park next Tuesday. Buttram believes that if the Lady Warriors defeat Buena Park, the team needs to win at least two of its final three to make it into the playoffs.

The road for Sonora doesn’t get any easier in the near future. The Lady Raiders will face another top team in Fullerton, Tuesday on the road.

“It’s rewarding for the girls to have a week like this,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve always known these girls to have talent, but now they’re showing a lot more composure. This is just a testament to what we did on Tuesday, it shows that we can do it and it shows the caliber of team that we are. This is what we’re going to expect from them, there’s an expectation now, instead of imagining what we could do as we did the last couple years.”

Comments Off on Sonora battles back, earns season sweep of Troy with late charge

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lady Highlanders best rival Sonora behind Rodriguez’ pitching, team defense

Posted on 25 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

La Habra freshman pitcher Janelle Rodriguez pitched a complete game shutout, allowing four hits while striking out nine batters in a 2-0 win over Sonora, Thursday afternoon at Sonora High.

La Habra freshman pitcher Janelle Rodriguez pitched a complete game shutout, allowing four hits while striking out nine batters in a 2-0 win over Sonora, Thursday afternoon at Sonora High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

La Habra head coach Frank McCarroll admitted that he felt like he took a bit of a gamble in sending a freshman to the circle to pitch against his team’s biggest rival.

Lady Highlanders’ freshman pitcher Janelle Rodriguez made sure that gamble paid off by pitching a complete game shutout and striking out nine batters as the La Habra softball team defeated Sonora 2-0, Thursday afternoon at Sonora High.

Rodriguez allowed four hits, two walks and a hit-by-pitch, but battled out of three jams with two baserunners.

“I couldn’t have done this without my team, they were behind me throughout the entire game,” Rodriguez said. “The early runs made me feel a little comfortable, but I knew with the girls behind me, I can trust them with anything.”

Both defenses took care of the rest, both coming up with big plays to keep the scoring at a minimum.

The Lady Highlanders put up single runs in the second and third innings, using sacrifice bunts and deep fly balls to manufacture both.

After Nikki Butler was hit by a pitch to open the second inning, pinch-runner Tatyana Peko reached second base on a sacrifice bunt, reached third base on a single by Rodriguez and came home to score when Anela Lopez’ fly ball to center popped out of the glove of Sonora’s Leandra Jew.

The Lady Highlanders (14-8, 3-1) got back-to-back singles to open the third inning, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Racquel Manzo and a sacrifice fly by Amanda Akles, which brought home Jayanna Perez from third base.

“We’ve been struggling at the plate over the last couple games, we haven’t been able to get that timely hit,” McCarroll said. “We stress it in practice, the importance of small ball and sacrifice bunts. If we have a runner on second base with less than two outs, we should be able to get them in.”

Sonora shortstop Chelsea Purcell makes a stop and throws over to first base to record an out during Sonora's 2-0 loss to La Habra, Thursday afternoon at home.

Sonora shortstop Chelsea Purcell makes a stop and throws over to first base to record an out during Sonora’s 2-0 loss to La Habra, Thursday afternoon at home.

Sonora starting pitcher Sam Casanas kept the Lady Highlanders in check for the last four innings. Casanas pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four batters, walking two and hitting four batters.

“I feel like it wasn’t her best games, she had the four hit batters, but I don’t think we could have asked anything more from her when you add the pressure of facing your biggest rival,” said Michelle Rodriguez, Sonora head coach. “We couldn’t have asked more from her. I thought the defense played really well.”

Janelle Rodriguez had to battle out of a shaky first inning before settling in and trusting in her defense. With one out, Taylor Clark and Katie Amaral hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second base.

However, Chelsea Purcell grounded into a fielders’ choice at third base, but Manzo’s throw to first for the double play sailed over the glove of Akles. The Lady Highlanders recovered and threw out Amaral, who attempted to retreat back to third base.

“We had our opportunities early on, it just didn’t seem like we had the timely hitting and they did,” Michelle Rodriguez said. “We thought we had a shot from Katie [Amaral], but their center fielder made a great play. We struck out too much, we took too many swings at balls out of the strike zone, but she kept us off-balance.”

Amaral led off the fourth inning with a single and reached third base on a passed ball, but was stranded there when Ashley Diaz flied out to right field to end the inning.

La Habra's Jayanna Perez went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored and made an over-the-shoulder catch in center field to save a run from scoring in the sixth inning.

La Habra’s Jayanna Perez went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored and made an over-the-shoulder catch in center field to save a run from scoring in the sixth inning.

But the big play came with two outs in the fifth inning. With runners on first and second base, Amaral hit a line drive to deep center field, but center-fielder Perez made an over-the-shoulder catch in front of the fence to end the threat.

“[Rodriguez] was in control, the only ball we were worried about was the line drive to center field,” McCarroll said. “We didn’t think it was going out, but Perez made a great play.”

Amaral led the Lady Raiders with two hits. The top three batters in Sonora’s lineup reached base a combined six times.

Perez, La Habra’s leadoff hitter, went 2-for-3 with a run scored and also reached on a walk.

La Habra will move on to play Buena Park at home next Tuesday, while Sonora (10-9, 2-2) has a crucial matchup on the road against Sunny Hills.

“We just need a win,” Michelle Rodriguez said. “That’s it. No excuses, we have goals that we have set for ourselves and if we want to accomplish those, we’re going to have to beat Sunny Hills.”

Comments Off on Lady Highlanders best rival Sonora behind Rodriguez’ pitching, team defense

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lady Raiders start league with key victory over Troy

Posted on 15 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora's Audrey Castro drives in the go-ahead run with this swing for a single in the sixth inning of Sonora's 4-1 league-opening win over Troy, Tuesday afternoon at home.

Sonora’s Audrey Castro drives in the go-ahead run with this swing for a single in the sixth inning of Sonora’s 4-1 league-opening win over Troy, Tuesday afternoon at home. Photos by Jay Seidel, La Habra Journal

by Daniel Hargis
La Habra Journal

In what was a fast-paced game, the Sonora High School softball team used tight defense and efficient offense to pick up a 4-1 victory against the visiting Troy Warriors in their Freeway League opener, Tuesday at Sonora.

Tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Lady Raiders (9-7, 1-0) offense came alive to score three runs to defeat the Lady Warriors, the same team that kept them from the CIF playoffs a year ago.

“This is a win we needed to have, especially with the two losses last week (to Savanna and La Serna),” Sonora head coach Michelle Rodriguez said. “Especially with a team like Troy. Troy is a team that always plays hard, and with their speed and pitching it forced us to show up today. We had offense when we needed it, I’m proud of the way we played.”

Senior third baseman Katie Amaral led off the sixth with a base hit before immediately stealing second, creating the looks for a productive inning.

Sonora outfielder Taylor Clark throws a ball back to the infield during the Lady Raiders 3-1 league win over Troy, Tuesday afternoon at home.

Sonora outfielder Taylor Clark throws a ball back to the infield during the Lady Raiders 3-1 league win over Troy, Tuesday afternoon at home.

Two batters later, senior first baseman Audrey Castro singled and advanced to second base on the attempted put out at home plate, but Lady Warriors catcher Kristen Randall could not hang on as Amaral scored the game-winning run.

A pop out began to wind the inning down with two outs, but freshman designated hitter Ashley Diaz doubled home Castro to take a 3-1 lead.

Another high pop up to right field was dropped and Diaz, hustling from second base on the two-out fly ball, safely scored for the final run of the afternoon.

“We weren’t worried at all, our offense needed to step up because Sam (Sonora’s pitcher) was doing her job, we knew we’d come back,” Castro said.

Both teams hardly gave up an inch to one another behind strong pitching and fundamental defense from start to finish.

Troy (10-7, 0-1) was held without a base runner once while Sonora endured the same offensive struggles three times.

In the innings in which runs were scored, they came with the help of a fielding error by the defense, or in the case of Sonora’s big sixth inning, the leadoff batter reaching base.

Sonora's Sam Casanas threw a complete game, giving up one run while striking out a pair during the Lady Raiders 3-1 win over Troy, Tuesday afternoon.

Sonora’s Sam Casanas threw a complete game, giving up one run while striking out a pair during the Lady Raiders 3-1 win over Troy, Tuesday afternoon.

Both pitchers forced batters into fly balls and ground balls that were clinically dealt with by the defense, helping Troy get out of a two-out jam in the fourth inning.

Sonora’s defense came away with the most impressive defensive play of the game in the top of the seventh inning. Lady Raiders’ sophomore shortstop Chelsea Purcell caught a line drive and doubled off Lady Warrior Alyssa Polentz at first base to suffocate any chance of a comeback.

“I think everyone wanted to get that first win,” Sonora sophomore pitcher Samantha Casanas said. “I love my defense behind me. It makes my job in the circle a lot easier.”

Casanas finished with a complete game and two strikeouts coupled with one walk on four hits and one earned run. Miranda Trinidad started for Troy, finishing with three strikeouts, zero walks and one earned run in four innings. Jessica Rathmell finished the game with two strikeouts, one walk, and one earned run in two innings.

Offensively, Castro had a team-high three hits and one run. Junior outfielder Taylor Clark, Diaz and Castro scored the other three runs.

Castro also drove in a pair of runs and outfielder Brandi Landino collected an RBI.

“We’re going to take this one game a time, it’s a huge win for us following last year not making CIF,” Rodriguez said. “Our goal is to go to CIF, get hot and go on a run.”

Comments Off on Lady Raiders start league with key victory over Troy

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here

Current Issue: