Tag Archive | "Olympic League"

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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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Heralds fall in close contest against league rival Valley Christian

Posted on 07 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Cooper Hughes (shown against Crean Lutheran) drove home the first of two Heralds' runs with a groundout during Whittier Christian's 3-2 loss to Valley Christian, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

Cooper Hughes (shown against Crean Lutheran) drove home the first of two Heralds’ runs with a groundout during Whittier Christian’s 3-2 loss to Valley Christian, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

CERRITOS – A transfer from Whittier Christian before the start of the season, Tyler Radecki pitched a gem for Valley Christian leading to a win over his former team 3-2, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

After a quick first inning, the Crusaders roughed up Mike Rafter, who started the second inning with a strike out, but then gave up a single past second baseman Daniel Howard.

The next hitter sent a long fly to Dakota Veltkamp which dropped when it caught the wind. Rafter was able to pitch out of the jam with the Heralds down one run.

The Crusaders continued to swing hot sticks in the third inning.

Valley Christian doubled the lead with three consecutive singles to start the third inning. A sacrifice fly scored the third run. Again Rafter was able to battle and escape the jam down 3-0.

The Heralds picked up Rafter in the fourth inning when Mike Rubio led off the inning with a single.

“Offensively it took us a time through the lineup to get our timing down,” said Brent Lavoie, Heralds head coach. “(The) second and third time I thought we squared up a bunch of balls, the process was really good, (we) hit a bunch of balls hard.”

Brian Rafter tried to sacrifice the runner over to second, but ended up pushing the bunt too far and Rubio was thrown out at second base. Mike Rafter reached on an error and Joseph Cobian was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Cooper Hughes grounded out but scored a run, Mike Rafter scored on a passed ball to narrow the gap to one run.

The Crusaders tried to extend their lead, but were shut down by Mike Rafter who pitched around a leadoff double.

“When the pressure moments arise, Rafter seems to get a little bit better,” Lavoie said. “There’s no fear of failure, bottom line the kid’s not afraid to fail and that’s what makes him so good, being able to battle in those type of situations.”

By this point in the night, the Heralds had seen Radecki’s best stuff, but were unable to push across another run.

“(Radecki) pitched a heck of a game, kept some guys off balance, and they played defense behind him,” Lavoie said.

In the seventh inning, junior varsity call up Brett Green had a long single off the right centerfield wall. Isaiah Carreon followed him with a single, but the Heralds were retired on a called strike three and a lineout to the first baseman.

The Heralds host Valley Christian on Friday. With a 4-5 record in the Olympic League, the Heralds control their own destiny for a playoff birth. The Heralds should be able to seal a playoff birth with a win in one of their next three games.

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Lady Heralds keep up the pressure, cruise past Heritage Christian

Posted on 07 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Cameron McLean (shown against El Segundo) added to the Lady Heralds runs with a two-RBI base hit in the fourth inning. Whittier Christian defeated Heritage Christian 18-2, Tuesday afternoon.

Whittier Christian’s Cameron McLean (shown against El Segundo) added to the Lady Heralds runs with a two-RBI base hit in the fourth inning. McLean finished 1-for-1 with three RBI as Whittier Christian defeated Heritage Christian 18-2, Tuesday afternoon.

by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian softball team jumped out to a huge lead in the first inning and never looked back in an 18-2 mercy-rule victory over Heritage Christian, Tuesday afternoon at home.

The Lady Heralds piled up 15 hits to keep the pressure on Heritage Christian pitcher Kristine Varon.

“When they play their game, that’s what they’re capable of doing,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach.

On a windy afternoon, fly balls were unpredictable and pitch control was a challenge.

The big difference between the two pitchers was Hannah Gabriel’s pitch velocity, which allowed her to still control her pitches against the wind.

The Lady Heralds have been focused on stacking up base hits, so the wind forced them to keep balls low.

“(We) focused on swinging the stick, not hitting the ball in the air,” Van Duyn said, “(The wind) made them realize they had to keep it down, it helped me push the base hit.”

Gabriel drove in two runs to give her team a three run lead as part of an eight-run first inning.

In addition to swinging the sticks, the girls took advantage of their base running ability and moved base-to-base with ease.

Senior Celeste Adriano (shown against La Serna) went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI as the Lady Heralds defeated Heritage Christian 18-2, Tuesday afternoon at home.

Senior Celeste Adriano (shown against La Serna) went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI as the Lady Heralds defeated Heritage Christian 18-2, Tuesday afternoon at home.

In the bottom of the third inning, up 8-1, Mackenzie Lou laid down a perfect bunt. She easily beat the throw. Lou later reached third base after a pair of wild pitches.

Cami McLean drew a walk, but rather than walking to first, she sprinted to first and went halfway between first and second. When the Warriors realized she was trying to steal second, Lou began to steal home. The second baseman threw over to push Lou back to third base while McLean took second base.

Melissa Martene bounced a single to right field, which was misplayed and bounced all the way to the wall. The speedy shortstop rounded first focused on going all the way home. Martene had no trouble scoring on the error to clear the bases.

Up 11-1, Celeste Adriano picked up one of four singles on a perfect day at the plate. Katelyn Wagner singled and came around to score on a single from Morgan Ryan, which was similar to the one which scored Martene and allowed her to reach second, bringing the score to 13-1. McLean added a two-RBI single later in the inning to push the run total to 16 after three innings.

The Heralds added two more runs as part of an 18-2 victory in five innings.

Whittier Christian will have a week off before taking on a big challenge next week in Valley Christian on the road, Tuesday afternoon. The Lady Crusaders bested Whittier Christian 10-2 earlier this season.

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Key runs vault Heritage Christian past Heralds at home

Posted on 25 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Jimmy West hits around a block attempt by Heritage Christian's Caleb Walden and Mike Otazu during the fourth set of the Heralds' 3-1 loss at home, Thursday night.

Whittier Christian’s Jimmy West hits around a block attempt by Heritage Christian’s Caleb Walden and Mike Otazu during the fourth set of the Heralds’ 3-1 loss at home, Thursday night.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

With an opportunity to force a tie atop the Olympic League standings, the Whittier Christian boys’ volleyball team stumbled in the third and fourth sets, falling to Heritage Christian 3-1 at home, Thursday night.

After falling in a close first set, the Heralds battled back to tie up the match with a convincing second set. However, the Warriors came up with key runs toward the end of the final two sets, leading to a 21-25, 25-17, 20-25, 18-25 final for Whittier Christian.

The loss also marks the Heralds’ first at home this season.

“This win is huge, they’re a quality team and we know we’re going to get everyone’s best shot in league,” said Sheldon Sheehy, Heritage Christian head coach. “You have to come prepared each and every night in order to take that and come out on top.”

The difference was in the swings, as the Heralds second set victory produced 15 kills and no service errors, while the other three sets were hindered by hitting errors.

Whittier Christian (17-7, 4-2) had its offense running smoothly in the second set, as Jimmy West tallied five kills, while Ron Bellamy added four more from the middle blocker position.

Setter Austin Tafoya tallied 14 assists in the set and added a serving ace as the Heralds’ lone deficit was at 1-0.

Whittier Chrisitan's Austin Tafoya blocks an attack by Heritage Christian during the fourth set of the Heralds' 3-1 loss at home to Heritage Christian, Thursday night.

Whittier Chrisitan’s Austin Tafoya blocks an attack by Heritage Christian during the fourth set of the Heralds’ 3-1 loss at home to Heritage Christian, Thursday night.

“In the first game, we had only five kills and 10 hitting errors and we’re a team that needs to find a rhythm early,” said Chris Duran, Heralds head coach. “In the second set, we executed at a higher level and maintained the momentum throughout that entire game. It’s something that we can’t lose, we just couldn’t get over the hill in the later games, but we’re more than capable of doing that.”

But as quickly as the Heralds gained momentum, the Warriors took it back late in the third set. After battling back to a one-point deficit at 16-15, four consecutive errors by the Heralds gave Heritage Christian the separation it needed to close out the set.

The fourth set remained tight, as both teams battled to a 16-16 tie midway through.

However, the front-line presence by Heritage Christian made it difficult for Whittier Christian’s hitters to get solid shots.

“We just couldn’t hit around the block, which led to a lot of errors, they’re a great defensive team,” Duran said. “They’re a great serving team too, they put the ball where it needs to go, which takes us out of rhythm offensively. There were plays that seemed too good to be true for us not to put the ball down. We missed those moments tonight.”

The Warriors (19-0-1, 5-0) ended the match on a 9-2 run, with the final three points coming by way of consecutive serving aces by junior Caleb Walden.

Whittier Christian's Danny Mueller records a kill through the block by Heritage Christian's Luke Irving during the third set of the Heralds' 3-1 loss, Thursday night at home.

Whittier Christian’s Danny Mueller records a kill through the block by Heritage Christian’s Luke Irving during the third set of the Heralds’ 3-1 loss, Thursday night at home.

“Our front line presence was big, we scouted and kind of knew what they were going to try to do at the net,” Sheehy said. “We wanted to take away their primary option and make them try to hit their secondary shot and put diggers there. It didn’t really pay dividends until the third and fourth sets, but we finally got there.”

Jimmy West and Shawn Stolt led the team offensively, while senior libero Kevin Hoskins kept plays alive with some spectacular work on the back line.

Outside hitters Stephen Doerbecker and Walden led the way for Heritage Christian, with Mike Otazu providing the assists.

Whittier Christian will attempt to bounce back with a tough road match against rival Valley Christian, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

“We’re hoping to finish out with a second place finish, which will set us in a good spot for playoffs,” Duran said. “We’re hoping for 20-7, which would be a great season for us, but we’re taking it one game at a time. Valley is going to be tough, they took us to five games the first time around and it’s always tough playing in their place.”

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Heralds squeeze out a league win over Heritage Christian

Posted on 22 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Mike Rafter (shown against Crean Lutheran) scored the Heralds' first run in the first inning during Whittier Christian's 3-2 walk-off win over Heritage Christian, Tuesday afternoon.

Whittier Christian’s Mike Rafter (shown against Crean Lutheran) scored the Heralds’ first run in the first inning during Whittier Christian’s 3-2 walk-off win over Heritage Christian, Tuesday afternoon.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Despite falling from his job as a starter at first base, Whittier Christian senior Dakota Veltkamp knew that he needed to stay ready in case his number was called for a pinch hit late in a ball game.

The senior’s preparedness paid off for the Heralds as he executed a squeeze bunt to give his team a much-needed 3-2 walk-off win over Heritage Christian, Tuesday afternoon at Whittier Christian High.

“I was waiting for my chance to get a hit, I was in a bit of a slump,” Veltkamp said. “Coach gave me the squeeze play and I couldn’t say no to him, I had to sell out…. I needed a boost, I was back in the bullpen taking dry hacks waiting for an at-bat and Coach told me to be ready. It worked out in our favor.”

Veltkamp’s bunt was pushed back to the pitcher as Cooper Hughes came home from third base to cap a two-run seventh inning for the Heralds.

The Warriors (8-13, 1-4) had no shot at beating Hughes to the plate.

“We had a bunch of opportunities, but couldn’t get it in,” said Brent Lavoie, Whittier Christian head coach. “Offensively we got a little stagnant and left a bunch of runners on base. We needed multiple runs in the first inning, we got one but then we lined into a double play. We left a few opportunities out there.”

Joseph Cobian also played a factor late, plating the game-tying run with a double to right-center field.

The big hit was preceded by two fielding errors by Heritage Christian, which put runners on first and second base with one out.

Cobian earned the win, pitching in relief of Jake Rivera, who gave up two runs on two hits in five-and-two-thirds innings. Rivera struck out three batters, walked three and hit one batter.

“Jake pitched really well for us today,” Lavoie said. “I feel bad that he didn’t get the win, he certainly deserved it.”

Equally as effective was Heritage Christian’s freshman pitcher Benji Foyle, who gave up three runs, only one of which was earned, despite giving up eight hits. The freshman allowed a first-inning run, but held the Heralds in check until the final frame.

“Three weeks ago, we made the decision that we needed to rebuild, so we called up a couple freshmen pitchers,” said Bobby Bell, Heritage Christian head coach. “Benji’s thrown really welly for us, I’m extremely proud of the kid.”

Foyle was given the lead in the sixth inning after the Warriors brought home two runs on a squeeze bunt by Anthony Aragon and a double steal attempt in which Aragon was caught between first and second base.

In the seventh inning, the Warriors threatened for more with runners on second and third base and nobody out.

The Warriors attempted another squeeze play, but Cobian’s pitch went behind the batter, which started a long series of throws that ended with tags of both baserunners.

“We had to go that route, their pitcher was doing a great job of keeping us off balance and we weren’t hitting the ball well,” Bell said of the small-ball approach. “When you’re not doing that you have to somehow apply pressure and we got it done. It didn’t work with the double play they executed in the seventh inning.”

With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Mike Rubio and Hughes both reached on bad throws, which set the stage for Cobian and Veltkamp’s heroics.

Earlier in the ball game, Cobian popped out to end the fifth inning with the bases loaded.

“In the previous at bat, after popping up, my mentality was that I needed to make an adjustment and get on top of something,” Cobian said. “It was a little nerve-wrecking to see the ball falling and two outfielders closing in on it, but when it fell, it was a big relief.”

Whittier Christian (11-9, 3-4) scored its first run before it recorded an out in the first inning. Mike Rafter and Brian Rafter started the inning with back-to-back doubles.

The Heralds threatened later with runners at first and second base, but Hughes lined into a double play and Cobian struck out to end the threat.

Whittier Christian hit into three double plays on the day, one of which prevented a run from scoring in the fourth inning.

On the other side, the Heralds were good defensively, only allowing one runner to reach via throwing error after making a few switches in recent weeks.

“We’ve had some good pitching, but we’ve had some defensive miscues,” Lavoie said. “Moving Rubio to third and Cobian to first base really cleaned us up. When you pitch well you have to take care of the ball defensively.”

The Heralds will close out their three-game set with Heritage Christian with a road game at the Mission Hills Senior League field in North Hills, Friday at 3:15 p.m.

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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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Heralds miscues lead to loss to Maranatha

Posted on 04 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

IMG_0472by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

PASADENA – It was a rough night for Heralds infielders, who committed four errors and allowed three unearned runs in a 4-1 loss to Maranatha, Thursday night at Jackie Robinson Field.

The Minutemen scored two runs in the first inning on a throwing error and maintained the lead with help from pitcher Walter Harris, who relieved starter Jeffrey Oki in the second inning and provided 4-and-one-thirds innings of relief.

“He said he felt something in his forearm and we went out as a precaution, so he’s going to see a doctor,” said Matt Schupper, Maranatha head coach. “We were expecting Oki to pitch six or seven innings tonight. Thankfully Walter was rested, he’s just been a horse for us all season and has developed into one of the best pitchers in this league. I was impressed with him tonight.”

Oki, Maranatha’s top pitcher, left before the second inning when he felt discomfort in his right forearm while throwing warm-up tosses.

Harris held the Heralds to one run on two hits and kept his pitch count down, throwing no more than 14 pitches in any inning.

For the Heralds, starting pitcher Mike Rafter battled, throwing 110 pitches in five innings of work. He was charged with four runs, one of them earned, on six hits while striking out six batters, walking three and hitting two.

“Knowing that Rafter and Oki were going at it tonight, we knew it was going to be a low-scoring game, so the focus was to push a run across the board any way we could,” said Brent Lavoie, Whittier Christian head coach. “The opportunities were there, we just couldn’t get that timely hit. Tip of the cap to Harris, he probably wasn’t expecting to play today, but he did his job.”

But what plagued the Heralds was throwing errors. After leading off the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back singles and pulling off a double steal, the Minutemen plated two runs when a throw from third baseman Joseph Cobian bounced over the glove of Dakota Veltkamp at first base.

After the Heralds got on the board in the top of the fifth inning, Maranatha’s Mike Heefner brought home a run with a single. An error by shortstop Mike Rubio brought home the fourth run later in the inning.

“It’s got to get cleaned up, it’s been hurting us and it has snake-bitten us a few times,” Lavoie said of the errors. “We address it, we work on it, but the bottom line is guys have to make plays.”

Whittier Christian manufactured its run in the fifth inning. Cooper Hughes reached on an infield single and made it to third base on a wild pitch by Harris before coming home after an error committed by shortstop Zach Schradermier.

The Minutemen left 10 runners on base and stranded multiple base runners in four innings.

The Heralds have another big series coming up against Village Christian next week. Whittier Christian will host the Crusaders on Tuesday and travel to Village Christian on Thursday.

Village Christian won the first matchup 6-0 at Whittier Christian High.

“There are huge implications in the league right away, there’s no time to feel sorry for yourselves,” Lavoie said. “We have to get back on the horse and it’s going to buck a little bit. It’ll be more about mental preparation and we have some work to do on the defensive end, that’s pretty evident.”

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Heralds outdone by Village Christian and pitcher Chris Davidson

Posted on 22 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Mike Rafter pitches in the early innings of a 6-0 loss to Village Christian at home, Friday afternoon in the teams' Olympic League opener.

Whittier Christian’s Mike Rafter pitches in the early innings of a 6-0 loss to Village Christian at home, Friday afternoon in the teams’ Olympic League opener.

by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian Heralds fell in their league opener at the hands of Village Christians’ Chris Davidson, who threw a gem allowing only two hits in the seventh inning as the Crusaders easily topped the Heralds 6-0.

“He did a great job of filling up the zone with three different pitches,” said Brent Lavoie, Whittier Christian head coach.

Davidson controlled the game early keeping the Herald bats off-balance with a curveball and fastball. Davidson picked up four straight strikeouts to start the game and finished with seven strikeouts and a just two hits in the shutout.

Mike Rafter started on the mound for the Heralds in what looked to be a pitchers’ duel. Rafter picked up two strikeouts in the first two innings, and was backed up by his defense including a diving grab from first baseman Dakota Valtkamp to save an extra-base hit in the first inning.

However things went south for Rafter and the Heralds in the third inning, when the Crusaders singled in five of six straight at bats.

After three innings, the Heralds were down 3-0 and had yet to rattle Davidson on the mound.

The Crusaders added two more runs in the fourth inning off of defensive mistakes, to increase their lead to 5-0.

“[We] can’t give a good team a couple of freebie runs and let their pitcher pitch with a lead,” Lavoie said.

The Heralds challenged Village Christian in the fourth inning when Brian Rafter reached on an error. Pressure grew when Logan Veloff walked and was moved to second base with a sacrifice bunt from Trevor McGee.

Davidson escaped danger after Isaiah Carreon scorched a liner to the shortstop for the final out.

“If you get robbed of a hit, you can’t really control that, but you have to have a next pitch mindset,” Carreon said.

With time running out, the Heralds replaced Rafter with Chris Thompson, who gave up one run in three innings of work.

Cooper Hughes motions toward the Whittier Christian dugout after breaking up a no-hitter in the seventh inning of the Heralds' 6-0 loss to Village Christian, Friday afternoon.

Cooper Hughes motions toward the Whittier Christian dugout after breaking up a no-hitter in the seventh inning of the Heralds’ 6-0 loss to Village Christian, Friday afternoon.

On a day where the Heralds did not swing the bats well, the highlight came when Cooper Hughes slapped a single down the right field line. The single ended Davidson’s bid for the no-hitter and kept the Herald’s hopes alive.

“I wish the other guys got a hit in this game, but it’s nice to get a hit, not go 0-for,” Hughes said.

Carreon followed it up with a single of his own for the Heralds, before Davidson closed the door on any chance of a comeback.

“The most important thing was putting the ball in play because he was striking a lot of us out,” Carreon said.

The Heralds played today without two starters in Joseph Cobian and Mike Rubio. Daniel Howard started at second in place of Rubio who is still out with a thumb injury, and Veloff started at third for Cobian who missed today’s game for academic reasons. These two reliable bats would have helped them against the star lefty.

“We didn’t have two of our starters out there,” Hughes said, “having guys in different spots threw us off.”

With the loss the Heralds open league play 0-1 but visit Heritage Christian on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

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Lady Heralds shut down league rival, secure their spot in the playoffs

Posted on 14 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

Tyler Gibson gave the Lady Heralds a boost early on, scoring five of her seven points in the first quarter as Whittier Christian defeated rival Valley Christian 23-21, Friday night at Valley Christian High.

Tyler Gibson gave the Lady Heralds a boost early on, scoring five of her seven points in the first quarter as Whittier Christian defeated rival Valley Christian 23-21, Friday night at Valley Christian High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Despite a second consecutive off-night shooting wise, the Whittier Christian girls’ basketball team relied on defense and didn’t show signs of fatigue in defeating Valley Christian 23-21 to claim the No. 3 seed in the Olympic League, Friday night at Valley Christian High.

The Lady Heralds battled their Olympic League rivals less than 24 hours after suffering a tough loss at home to Village Christian, which forced a three-way tie for second place in league.

Valley Christian, on the other hand, had three days between games with a Bye on Thursday after defeating Heritage Christian on the road, Tuesday.

Team defense was the key as Whittier Christian focused on filling the gaps and throwing off the Lady Crusaders by switching from zone to man defenses.

That gameplan allowed just one point to Valley Christian in the second and third quarters combined, which gave Whittier Christian a 17-9 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“Today was a big mental game for us, we had to stay tough and prepare ourselves on the way over,” said Tammy Adereti, who was assigned to defend against the Lady Crusaders’ top two scorers. “We work on defense a lot in practice. Our coach tells us, ‘Never let your man beat you,’ so that’s always the mindset we go out with.”

While Whittier Christian’s defense was causing fits for the Lady Crusaders, the offense wasn’t overpowering as the Lady Heralds hit just over 24 percent of their shots from the floor.

Sydney Lopez led the way with 12 points and 10 rebounds and again came through for the Lady Heralds in the second half with eight points and seven rebounds.

“Sydney is the backbone of this team, offensively she looks for her shots and we need her to score in order to win games,” said Grace Ricafranca, Whittier Christian head coach. “She delivers every time, under pressure, when we need her the most. She’s one of the top offensive players in this league and she proved that again tonight.”

Defensively, the Lady Heralds altered shots throughout the matchup until the final two minutes of the game.

Leading 23-13, Whittier Christian allowed a pair of 3-pointers to Makenna Mageo and Hailey Garcia, along with a pair of free throws by Amber Binford, but time simply ran out as Mageo’s 3-pointer left just five seconds on the clock.

“Our head coach, Grace, is really good about keeping us calm, she always reminds us that we have the lead and to take it slow,” Adereti said. “We just remembered to listen to her and keep our mind straight and it worked out for us.”

Both teams had fairly quick starts in the first quarter. After Valley Christian jumped to an 8-2 lead, Tyler Gibson made a pair of driving layups and made the ensuing free throw on one of them to cut the lead to 8-7 at the end of the quarter.

Despite only scoring four points in the second quarter, Whittier Christian held the Lady Crusaders scoreless and led 11-8 at the half.

In a developing trend, the Lady Heralds were at their best in the third quarter, as the defense held Valley Christian to just one free throw, while Lopez got going with a driving layup and a put-back while Adereti knocked down a big shot to extend the lead to eight points heading into the final quarter.

“In the first quarter, we took a little while to get into it, but later during the course of the game, I thought we did a great job of rotating,” Ricafranca said. “They adjust really well, the third has always been our strongest quarter, the girls just happen to wake up at that time and it’s better late than never. We snap into it and just start playing aggressive.”

Both teams played without key starters. Valley Christian (11-16, 4-5) was without starting forward Kate Vande Vegte, while Whittier Christian (14-11, 5-4) was without guard Priscilla Zamorano, who suffered a knee injury the previous night against Village Christian.

Binford scored six of her eight points in the first quarter to lead Valley Christian. Garcia scored all of her six points in the second half.

Valley Christian forward Amanda Chamberlain brought down eight rebounds, but was held to four points.

With the win, Whittier Christian claims the third and final guaranteed playoff spot out of the Olympic League.

The team will most likely be on the road in the first round, but will find out its first round opponent on Sunday when the CIF-SS releases the Division 4A playoff bracket.

“I don’t know how many more adversities we’ll have to face before our season comes to an end, but if there’s anything I’ve learned about this team it’s that they never give up,” Ricafranca said. “They’re always willing to put up a good fight and they enjoy the thrill and the adventure maybe a little too much, but they’re able to rise to the occasion and they do a great job under pressure.”

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Whittier Christian basketball can’t find shooter’s touch against Village Christian

Posted on 14 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

Ryan Esslinger led the Heralds with 12 points in a 61-30 loss to Village Christian at home, Thursday night.

Ryan Esslinger led the Heralds with 12 points in a 61-30 loss to Village Christian at home, Thursday night.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

After holding a potent Village Christian offense to just 18 points in the first half, the Whittier Christian boys’ basketball team couldn’t contain leading scorer Bennie Boatwright and the Crusaders in the second half in a 61-30 loss, Thursday night at Whittier Christian High.

Boatwright, a 6-foot-9 forward, torched the Heralds for 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and the Crusaders’ full-court pressure defense forced the Heralds to play at Village Christian’s up-tempo style.

With Village Christian (21-4, 8-0) dictating the pace, the Heralds struggled from the floor, hitting 11 of 49 shots in the game.

The Heralds (16-9, 4-4) also struggled without guard Kaipo Villeza, who left the game in the third quarter after being hit in the head while coming down with a rebound.

“We just couldn’t get anything going in the second half and once we lost Kaipo, we had to go with a lineup we hadn’t gone with all year,” said Sherwin Durham, Heralds head coach. “Because of that, we had no court spacing and we just weren’t able to get any points. We scored 13 points in the second half and that won’t win you too many ball games.”

Because of the switch, Durham tried putting all four of the Heralds’ forwards on the floor at the same time. However, the switch slowed down the offense and the big men struggled to find inside shots against Village Christian’s matched size.

Still, despite the shooting woes, Whittier Christian’s defense was just as strong early on and Ryan Esslinger hit a buzzer-beating half-court shot at the end of the first half to shrink the Crusaders lead to 18-17 at halftime.

Part of the Heralds’ success on defense was due to the rebounding of Stephen Nolin, who came up with five first-quarter rebounds to prevent any second chance opportunities.

“We just wanted to keep them in front of us and make them shoot over the top of us,” Durham said of the defensive strategy. “I thought we did a good job getting a hand up in their face, especially with Boatwright. We wanted to make him put it on the floor because he’s a catch-and-shoot guy.”

In the second quarter, Village Christian’s only field goals were scored on 3-pointers by Boatwright and Matt Shashaty.

However, in the second half, Boatwright found space and, in turn, found his shot, scoring 11 points in the third quarter as the Crusaders broke away for a 41-28 lead heading into the final quarter.

“Once the game started getting out of hand, the floor started opening up for him and he knocked down shots,” Durham said. “To that point, I thought we did a decent job. He’s definitely a pure shooter and once they started getting him in transition, he got into a rhythm and he’s tough to guard.”

Nothing was easy for the Heralds in the fourth quarter. Boatwright erupted for eight more points in the fourth quarter and hit two of his five 3-pointers in the process.

Village Christian guard Jerrick Ahanmisi provided support for the Crusaders with 10 points, including a 3-pointer late in the first quarter that tied the score at 6-6 heading into the second quarter.

Forward Marsalis Johnson scored eight of his 10 points in the second half.

Ryan Esslinger led the Heralds with 12 points, scoring five points in each of the second and third quarters on 5 of 9 shooting

However, forward Jake Rivera had a rough night from the floor and finished with five points, while Shawn Stolt added seven points and seven rebounds.

Before the game, the Heralds were already locked into the No. 3 seed out of the Olympic League. Whittier Christian will find out its playoff fate when the CIF-SS Division 4A pairings are released Sunday afternoon.

“Every year, we break it up into three seasons, the preseason, the league season and the playoffs,” Durham said. “Now we know that the next time we lose, we’re done. It’s a one-game-at-a-time situation and I think the kids will be up to the challenge.”

Sydney Lopez finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds in a 37-26 loss to Village Christian at home, Thursday night.

Sydney Lopez finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds in a 37-26 loss to Village Christian at home, Thursday night.

GIRLS VARSITY

With a chance to clinch the No. 2 seed out of the Olympic League, the Whittier Christian girls basketball team struggled to hang on to the ball in the second half, falling 37-26 to Village Christian, Thursday night at home.

The result of the game forced a three-way tie for second place in the Olympic League, as Valley Christian also has a 4-4 league record.

Coin flips determined that Village Christian will be the No. 2 representative, while Whittier Christian and Valley Christian will battle in a tiebreaker for the No. 3 seed, Friday at 5 p.m. at Valley Christian High.

On Thursday night, the Lady Heralds (13-11, 4-4) struggled from the floor early, then struggled with turnovers in the second half.

The Lady Heralds also lost senior guard Priscilla Zamorano to what appeared to be a left knee injury after she was bumped while attempting to stop a drive in the second quarter.

While Whittier Christian kept it close in the first quarter, Village Christian’s Hadiqa Nayani took over in the second quarter by scoring all 13 of the Lady Crusaders’ points – including 8 of 8 from the free-throw line – as Village Christian took a 22-12 lead at halftime.

But the Lady Heralds came out fired up to start the third quarter and quickly reduced the gap to 25-22 thanks to a pair of baskets by Sydney Lopez and a big shot by Tammy Adereti.

However, the Lady Heralds went cold from the floor after that point, making just one field goal and a pair of free throws as Nayani and guard Hhala Aboul-Hosn lifted Village Christian (11-15, 4-4) to the win.

Nayani scored a game-high 17 points for the Lady Crusaders.

Lopez finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds for Whittier Christian.

The Lady Heralds will match up with Valley Christian one final time on Friday at Valley Christian. The team’s split the season series 1-1, with the road team winning both games.

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