Posted on 19 March 2014 by La Habra Journal
La Habra’s Camille Manzo drives in two runs with a single in the fourth inning. She finished 2-for-3 at the plate in the Lady Highlanders’ 7-3 win over Whittier Christian, Tuesday afternoon. Photos by Jay Seidel, La Habra Journal
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
After allowing two early runs, the La Habra softball team had an immediate response, followed by a late surge, resulting in a 7-2 win over Whittier Christian, Tuesday afternoon at La Habra High.
The Lady Highlanders took a 3-2 lead on a two-run home run by Amanda Akles in the bottom of the first inning and pitcher Taylor Pierce calmed down after allowing a home run in the top half of the inning.
La Habra doubled their run total in the fifth inning and finished with eight hits on the afternoon.
“Offensively, we’ve gotten off to a pretty good start,” said Frank McCarroll, La Habra head coach. “If we get into a deficit, we have confidence that we can come back. With that being said, we don’t want to see too big a deficit early on. We want to get out there and jump on teams early if we can and we have that potential in our lineup, we got creative and had timely hits.”
For the Lady Heralds, Celeste Adriano’s first-inning home run would provide the only two runs, despite the team collecting eight hits.
Whittier Christian stranded two runners in each of the sixth and seventh innings.
“They’re a good team, but I feel like we were right there,” said Dale Van Duyn, Whittier Christian head coach. “That’s what happens when you get a home run early on, kids start to over-swing a little bit, but I think it’s part of their maturity in learning that we need to get base hits. I look at it this way, if we hang with a Division 3 team, we’ve got a good shot.”
Both starting pitchers had rocky starts. After Pierce walked Whittier Christian’s Melissa Martene to start the game, Adriano hit a two-run home run to center field to give the Lady Heralds an early lead.
Whittier Christian’s Celeste Adriano robs La Habra’s Taylor Pierce of a home run in the third inning of La Habra’s 7-2 win, Tuesday afternoon at LHHS.
However, in the bottom half of the inning, Whittier Christian’s Hannah Gabriel also walked La Habra’s leadoff batter Jayanna Perez.
Two batters later, Racquel Manzo hit a single to center field to drive Perez home from second base. On the very next pitch, Akles launched a towering home run to center field to give La Habra the 3-2 lead.
Gabriel worked around trouble until the fourth inning. The junior pitcher hit Janelle Rodriguez before surrendering a double to pinch-hitter Alyssa Palacios to put runners on second and third base.
“She’s done that a couple times, had her number called and given us a big hit,” McCarroll said of Palacios.
Camille Manzo, who went 2-for-3 for La Habra, then drove both home with a single and ended up coming around to score on a single by younger sister Racquel Manzo.
Rodriguez scored again in the fifth inning on a double by Anela Lopez.
Meanwhile, Pierce seemed in cruise control until the sixth inning.
“Trust has been the key, with the defense, the pitcher has to know that her teammates will make the play and they did,” McCarroll said. “Our big play was when Nikki [Butler] threw out a runner at second base to end the second inning, that was a key play, but it was a team effort.”
In the sixth inning, Gabriel and Victoria Ayala singled to put runners on first and second base for Whittier Christian with one out.
However, Katelyn Wagner popped out and Erica Romo grounded out to end the threat.
La Habra’s Taylor Pierce pitches in the sixth inning of La Habra’s 7-2 win over Whittier Christian, Tuesday afternoon. Pierce pitched a complete game and struck out three batters.
In the seventh inning, Pierce worked around back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, by inducing three pop flies in the infield.
“Overall, I was very happy with what I saw, it’s the beginning of the year, we’ll make a few little adjustments,” Van Duyn said. “We were in the game, they’re a good team and they’re ranked high and I told the girls that if we hang with them, we’ll be fine. I was happy with that.”
La Habra (7-4) will move on to play Yorba Linda on the road, Thursday before kicking off the Woodbridge Tournament next week.
“[Yorba Linda] is a Top 10 team and Paige [Von Sprecken] is one of the best pitchers in the county, so it’s going to be a good test for some of our younger players,” McCarroll said. “We have some tough competition coming up.”
Whittier Christian (3-3) will participate in the Ontario Christian Tournament, which starts this Thursday. The Lady Heralds have a nonleague game against La Serna next Tuesday.
“I think what we have going is working, there are a lot of good things,” Van Duyn said. “If anything, we may tweak the outfield a bit, but I have a good feeling about this tournament, I think we can do well.”