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Heralds early onslaught leads to lopsided win over Santa Ana

Posted on 19 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Jake Rivera rounds second base during his late-inning triple during Whittier Christian's 10-2 win over Santa Ana, Saturday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.

Jake Rivera rounds second base during his late-inning triple during Whittier Christian’s 10-2 win over Santa Ana, Saturday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.

Story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian baseball team took control early putting up four runs in the first inning to cruise to a 10-2 victory over the Santa Ana Saints, Saturday at Whittier Christian High.

The Heralds were active on the base paths and took advantage immediately. Mike Rafter reached first base on a walk but swiped second and third without any trouble. Cooper Hughes drove him in with an RBI single with two outs in the inning.

Hughes swiped second and came home on a single to left from Joseph Cobian, who also stole second on a delayed steal attempt. Logan Veloff drew a walk.

With Brian Rafter at the plate, Veloff and Cobian moved up another base on a passed ball. Brian Rafter took care of the rest with a single to center which scored both runners.

Up four runs however, the Heralds kept the pressure on. Mike Rafter singled to lead off the second inning and went to third on an overthrow from Billy Scolinos’ single. Scolinos was thrown out trying for third. Mike Rubio doubled to bring in Rafter, and went to third base on a wild pitch.

“Rubio’s been swinging the bat very well,” head coach Brent Lavoie said, “He’s just getting into a rhythm, he’s still getting better every game.”

Hughes picked up his second of three hits on an RBI single to bring in Rubio. With the Heralds up six runs, Hughes was stranded at second after he stole his second base.

“Today was a big day offensively for Cooper, and we’re hoping that’s the spark that gets his bat going,” Lavoie said.

Chris Thompson struggled with his command, but escaped through two innings without any runs. However in the third, the Saints (3-14) put their first run on the board with a single to left with runners on the corners. Hughes showcased his arm gunning down two runners in the inning to keep the Herald’s margin to just five runs through three innings.

Thompson controlled the fourth inning to finish his day on the mound. After the Heralds added two more in the fourth inning, they began putting players in new spots.

“I like the fact that he still made big pitches and got big outs when he needed them, but he’ll tell you he did not have his best stuff,” Lavoie said of his starting pitcher.

Trevor McGee came in to relieve Thompson. McGee gave up one run through three innings and was able to locate his pitches efficiently. McGee showed surprisingly good command with his curveball, which will be helpful down the stretch.

“It’s sharp, it’s good we know he’s got good stuff, he’s just been having a little trouble controlling his stuff,” Lavoie said. “Now that he’s proven that he can keep it in the strike zone that’s a huge addition coming out of the bullpen.”

Logan Veloff came in to catch for McGee, and Hughes moved into centerfield. Dakota Veltkamp took over for Cobian and Jake Rivera got his first hit of the season with a pinch hit triple which scored Hughes.

The Heralds (11-9) are currently in third place in the Olympic League with a record of 2-4. They meet Heritage Christian on Tuesday and visit them on Friday. These two games will be pivotal for playoff positioning.

“We still steer our own vessel,” Lavoie said, “but we realize we’ve got to take care of business this week.”

 

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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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La Habra outdone by Torrance pitching gem

Posted on 04 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Web_LHJ LHHS_LosAl_base__329by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

The La Habra baseball team could not get their offense going and suffered a 5-0 loss at the hands of the Torrance Tartars, Wednesday at home to close out the Anaheim Lions Tournament.

The Highlanders got just one runner on base in the top of the sixth inning with a pinch-hit lead off single by Jake Tourville. Torrance pitcher, Kyle Smith, threw a complete game shutout.

He only gave up the one hit, and struck out 11 batters with no walks.

“Our guys tried to do too much and tried to cover the whole plate,” said La Habra head coach John Sothern. “Against a guy with talent like that, you need to cut the plate in half and wait for your pitch. If there is a pitch you don’t like even if there is a strike we need to be willing to take.”

Even though he is more than happy with his performance, Smith wanted the perfect game.

“I got that close one other time and the exact same thing happened,” Smith said. “A right hander took an outside pitch and poked it into right field.”

The Highanders kept it close early and only trailed 1-0 after five innings. The only run came in the top of the third after Manny Olloque doubled to right center field. He then stole third with the infield in to stop the bunt.

The next batter, Ryan Eastburn, singled him in and picked up the RBI. Eastburn finished 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run and a walk. Olloque was 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk.

The Tartars opened it up in the bottom of the sixth inning. Torrance scored four runs and stole four bases in the inning alone. The big one came on a double steal.

Jacob Gurwell took off to steal second and as he did Billy Bryant took off from third. La Habra second baseman, Kyle Schuh, threw home and the ball got away from Austin Saad allowing Gurwell to take third.

“In a game like this, the team that makes mistakes loses and that is what we did,” Sothern said. “We made some mistakes on things that we have been practicing all season and that let them break open the game.”

The Highlanders head back into Freeway League play with a 2-0 record in league. They will be taking on Troy, Friday, at La Habra. Andrew Gallegos will take the mound.

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Raiders find a way to win late against Dana Hills

Posted on 01 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Jake Rosander went 3-for-4 against Dana Hills on Tuesday afternoon, including an RBI-single to bring home the game-tying run in the top of the seventh inning.

Jake Rosander went 3-for-4 against Dana Hills on Tuesday afternoon, including an RBI-single to bring home the game-tying run in the top of the seventh inning.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Through six innings of its Anaheim Lions Tournament game against Dana Hills, it appeared the Sonora baseball team would suffer the same fate it had dealt with through the first three games of the five-day event.

The Raiders scored a run in the top of the second inning, but committed a trio of costly mistakes, which allowed the Dolphins to take a 2-1 lead heading into the seventh inning.

However, in final inning, the Raiders executed a gameplan at the plate and finished the job against the Dolphins top pitcher, scoring four runs and taking a 5-2 win at home, Tuesday afternoon.

“We just battled going down to our last out and we put the ball in play,” said Pat Tellers, Sonora head coach. “[Jake] Rosander has been swinging the bat better than he had been and he just put it in the right spot to tie it up.”

Down 2-1, Maricio Guadaramma led off the seventh inning with a base hit, Evan Sonny sacrificed him to second base and Gavin Blodgett’s groundout allowed him to reach third base with two outs.

After Dana Hills starting pitcher Marrick Crouse walked Andrew Piraino to put runners on the corners, the Dolphins turned to ace Louis Raymond to record the final out.

However, Jake Rosander, who finished 3-for-4, drove in the game-tying run with a groundball single to left field. Later in the inning, pinch-runner Dillon Meyer scored the go-ahead run on a bad toss back to the mound by Dolphins’ catcher Luke Williams.

“I think they got down a little bit with that miscue, that kind of hurt them,” Tellers said.

Jose Gomez then followed with the big hit, a line-drive single to right field that scored two runs, leading to the game’s final score.

Up until that point, it appeared to be another frustrating outing for the Raiders, who ran themselves out of the fifth inning when Caleb Choe rounded third base too wide and was tagged out trying to get back.

In the bottom half of the inning, Guadaramma committed an error that loaded the bases. Jay Schuyler broke a 1-1 tie with a sacrifice fly to center field.

“It’s the same thing, we’re leaving guys on base again, we’re not doing what we need to do,” Tellers said. “Then we go out and have a miscue on a ball and its costing us the game because of how close they’ve been. I think we try to do a little too much.”

Sonora (6-6-1) scored its first run with an RBI-single by Guadaramma in the second inning.

The Dolphins (13-3) responded in the third inning when Williams’ RBI-single drove Shawn Kany home from third base.

Andrew Piraino earned the win, pitching six innings in which he gave up two runs on seven hits while striking out four batters and walking none.

“This was the best outing we’ve seen out of him this year,” Tellers said. “His breaking ball was working really well, he had good velocity in his fastball and he was spotting it. He did what he needed to do to keep us in the ball game.”

Crouse was charged with the loss, giving up three runs in six-and-two-thirds innings, while allowing six hits, striking out four batters and walking three.

Sonora will play one final game in the Anaheim Lions Tournament tomorrow afternoon against a team and at a site to be determined.

“We posted a few things on the board for guys to read about turning this around,” Tellers said. “We’re all in this together as a group, we can’t be separated by what happens, we’ve got to fight through this and fight through the adversity. Hopefully we can continue to build and get ready for league.”

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Late game heroics aid in Highlanders fast start in Anaheim Lions Tournament

Posted on 30 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

La Habra's Chris Nuanes reacts after making contact with a pitch against Los Altos in the first game of a doubleheader at home in the Anaheim Lions Tournament, Saturday afternoon.

La Habra’s Chris Nuanes reacts after making contact with a pitch against Los Altos in the first game of a doubleheader at home in the Anaheim Lions Tournament, Saturday afternoon. PHOTOS BY JAY SEIDEL, LA HABRA JOURNAL

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Locked in a pitchers’ duel, the La Habra baseball team got key production from the heart of its batting order in the eighth inning, leading to a 2-0 extra-inning win over West Covina, Saturday afternoon at home in the Anaheim Lions Tournament.

After failing to cash in with runners in scoring position during the fifth and sixth innings, the Highlanders, who were the designated visiting team, loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning after the Bulldogs (6-5) went to relief pitcher Donovyn Curiel.

Garrett Molnar then lined a curveball from Curiel into right-center field to score pinch-hitter Brad Hoffrichter from third base to break the scoreless tie.

“I was just looking for a fastball to drive out to right-center field, but [Curiel] hung me a curveball and I had to stay back on it,” Molnar said. “My dad and I have been going to the park and working on driving pitches the opposite way, so when he threw it, I just stuck with it and put it where I wanted. Earlier, we were just trying to get a run across and when we didn’t, it took away some momentum, but we knew we had to compete until the game was over.”

Two batters later, catcher Michael Borg added a sacrifice fly to score Chris Nuanes and Ricky Garcia pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half of the eighth inning to preserve the win and a 2-0 tournament start.

“That’s the big difference with this group, they grind it out, they find a way,” said John Sothern, La Habra head coach. “Last year’s group would have folded at the first mistake, but this year’s group didn’t, they just kept chipping away and we found a way to win.”

The runs in the eighth inning were celebrated most by starting pitcher Andrew Gallegos, who pitched seven innings, allowing three hits while striking out six batters and walking two to earn his third win of the season.

“He was good, he was lights out in the fall, but struggled after Christmas break and dropped to the No. 2 spot,” Sothern said. “His last two starts have been good. His struggle early was getting behind batters and allowing walks, but today he was efficient with his pitches and threw them for strikes. He kept us in the game.”

La Habra's Cody Sciacca makes a catch near the warning track during the Highlanders' 3-1 win over Los Altos, Saturday afternoon at home.

La Habra’s Cody Sciacca makes a catch near the warning track during the Highlanders’ 3-1 win over Los Altos, Saturday afternoon at home.

Gallegos came out strong from the start and consistently worked ahead in the count and threw first pitch strikes.

Garcia earned his third save, despite loading the bases with no outs.

“I just wanted to hit my spots, I’ve been struggling lately hitting those spots and I felt good today,” Gallegos said. “I’ve been trusting in my stuff in these last two games and getting first pitch strikes was big for me today, it helped me to get ahead in the count.”

Gallegos got plenty of help from his defense, including outfield assists from Molnar in left field and Nuanes in right field.

West Covina’s Ryan Viramontes hit a sharp liner to the corner in left field that one-hopped the outfield fence in the fourth inning.

However, Molnar, starting in left field for the first time this season, barehanded the ball off the fence and fired to second base, where Viramontes was tagged out trying to stretch the single to a double.

In the sixth inning, Nuanes played a fly ball in right field and threw out Viramontes again, this time as he was trying to advance to third on the out.

“I wasn’t going to let him get to second base, so I threw a hose over there,” Molnar said of his play in the fourth inning.

In the eighth inning, Garcia gave up a leadoff single, walked a batter and Victor Meraz reached on an error by third baseman Carlos Lomeli to load the bases.

However, Lomeli collected a ground ball and threw to home for the first out, Garcia got a strikeout and Viramontes flied out to center field to end the eight-inning contest.

West Covina starting pitcher Anthony Deeter through six shutout innings, allowing four hits while striking out two batters and walking three others.

The Highlanders (6-3) earned a 3-1 victory over Los Altos in their first game of the day. Robert Leffler earned the pitching win, his third of the season, while Gallegos and Cody Sciacca came up with RBI triples in the fourth and sixth innings to put La Habra ahead.

“We just want more of the same,” Sothern said of the team moving forward. “We don’t want to play too up or down depending on who we’re facing. We just need to keep coming out, have good pitching performances, play good defense and execute when called upon and hopefully we can continue this run.”

The Highlanders will continue play in the Anaheim Lions Tournament with a Monday afternoon game against West Torrance at 3 p.m.

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Raiders baseball struggles on opening day of Anaheim Lions Tournament

Posted on 30 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora pitcher JonPaul Sarro pitches to Murrieta Mesa in the second game of a doubleheader at home to kick off the Anaheim Lions Tournament. Sonora finished 0-1-1 on the day. PHOTOS BY JAY SEIDEL, LA HABRA JOURNAL

Sonora pitcher JonPaul Sarro pitches to Murrieta Mesa in the second game of a doubleheader at home to kick off the Anaheim Lions Tournament. Sonora finished 0-1-1 on the day. PHOTOS BY JAY SEIDEL, LA HABRA JOURNAL

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

In an 11-inning contest, the Sonora baseball team couldn’t connect with runners in scoring position and Kelso High of Washington struggled to get baserunners as the teams ended in a scoreless tie at Sonora, Saturday afternoon in the first game of the Anaheim Lions Tournament for both teams.

Sonora’s Gabe Armstrong and Kelso’s Tyler Parsons locked into a pitcher’s duel, both working eight innings before giving way to the bullpen.

The game featured stellar defense from both sides, including a diving catch by Sonora’s Justin Mellano in the top of the fourth inning and a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play by Kelso to end the 11th inning.

“Pitching was phenomenal, you couldn’t ask for a better job out of those two,” said Pat Tellers, Sonora head coach. “It all comes down to playing behind them and I thought we did a good job. We made a few changes for this game that worked out and Mellano made some nice plays in the outfield. But there’s the other part of the game too, which is execution at the plate and we failed to do that.”

Armstrong, who already has a no-hitter this season, continued a strong start to his junior season by throwing eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits while striking out nine batters and walking none.

In a stretch from the first inning to the seventh inning, the junior right-hander retired 18 batters in a row.

Almost equally as strong was the Hilanders’ left-handed starter Parsons, who also threw eight innings, allowing five hits while striking out six batters and walking none.

But despite his strong performance, the Raiders found three key chances to get on the board.

In the fourth inning, Jake Rosander hit a two-out double to deep right field, but Mellano lined out to right field to end the threat.

Mellano then found himself on third base twice, in the seventh and 10th innings, but Henry Bustamante flied out to end the seventh inning and Evan Sonny popped out to shortstop Hayden Gillen to end the 10th inning.

“We’re still being stubborn at the plate, we aren’t executing and it’s been a bunch of little failures at the plate,” Tellers said. “It’s something we have to change mentally and physically. It’s really effecting us when we have the opportunity to get guys in and others aren’t doing their job.”

Steve Christen pitched the final three innings for the Hilanders (1-1-1), pitching out of trouble in two of those innings.

Sonora's Jake Rosander takes a swing at a pitch against Murrieta Mesa, Saturday afternoon at home in the Anaheim Lions Tournament.

Sonora’s Jake Rosander takes a swing at a pitch against Murrieta Mesa, Saturday afternoon at home in the Anaheim Lions Tournament.

Kelso had just two baserunners, one of which was thrown out by catcher Andrew Piraino while trying to steal second base in the seventh inning. Quentin McDaniel singled off Armstrong with one out in the first inning, but was stranded at second base.

Gavin Blodgett pitched three perfect innings for the Raiders, striking out four batters in the process.

“We have to execute, otherwise this season will continue the way it is, we’ve had seven one-run games,” Tellers said. “When we make a mistake defensively, that’s when it will cost us because we can’t manufacture a run. The pitching that we’re getting has been keeping us in ball games, but the first defensive mistake we make will cost us.”

The Raiders dealt with a different problem in their second game, a 4-2 loss to Murrieta Mesa.

Sonora (5-5-1) committed five errors in the contest and the Rams broke up a 2-2 tie with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to drop the Raiders to 0-1-1 on the day.

The Raiders continue play in the Anaheim Lions Tournament with a Monday afternoon home game against Torrance at 3:15 p.m. Sonora will again be the designated visiting team.

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Lady Raiders come through in extra innings, take third in Whittier Tournament

Posted on 30 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Sonora pitcher Sam Casanas battled out of jams and helped the Lady Raiders to a 3-1 win over Knight, Saturday afternoon at Whittier High.

Sonora pitcher Sam Casanos battled out of jams and helped the Lady Raiders to a 3-1 win over Knight, Saturday afternoon at Whittier High.

by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Sonora softball team took third place in the Whittier Tournament with a 3-1 win over Knight High of Palmdale, Saturday afternoon at Whittier High School.

Both pitchers threw gems, forcing extra innings in a scoreless tie through seven innings. However small ball and defense were the difference between the two teams.

“For them to pull it off, my pitcher and my defense really stepped up today,” said Michelle Rodriguez, Sonora head coach. “They were put in some challenging positions and that’s always something great to see.”

The Lady Raiders were led by Sam Casanas who pitched eight innings to take the victory.

“She was throwing a lot of strikes, she found some spots that were really comfortable for her where she likes to pitch and the umpire was really calling those for her,” Rodriguez said.

The Lady Raider bats were kept quiet through seven innings, but jumped at the opportunity with a runner in scoring position.

In the eighth inning, Emily Hauke dropped a bunt to move Ashley Diaz to third base. On the throw to first, the ball sailed over the first baseman’s head, scoring Diaz from third and advancing Hauke to second base.

“I try to tell them it’s not the big home run or the base hit, it’s the little things that count,” Rodriguez said.

Two batters later, with Ashley Bordy pinch running on third base, Leandra Jew brought Bordy home on a sacrifice fly.

Taylor Clark added a bloop single and Katie Amaral singled and advanced to third on multiple fielding errors by the Hawks.

With a three run lead, Sam Casanas continued her mastery in the circle.

“I had those butterflies,” Casanas said, “I needed to pull through and I really think I did, and my defense behind me really helped me tremendously as well.”

Knight led off the inning with a single up the middle to score the runner on second base. A dribbler up the middle brought the winning run to the plate.

“I just told myself we can do this, I have my great defense,” Casanas said.

Pitching with runners on was normal by now for Casanas who consistently left runners stranded on base.

“I was putting it out of my mind, my defense and I managed even if there were runners on, we got out of it,” Casanas said.

After seven innings of excellent defense and pitching, the Lady Raiders were locked in defensively. So much such that they retired the second batter in the inning during an aftershock despite having two runners in scoring position. The Lady Raiders then escaped winning 3-1 on a grounder where the runner was tagged out on her way to first.

The Lady Raiders take home third place in the Whittier Tournament.

“This was a really important game for us to have, going back into our schedule,” Rodriguez said.

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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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