Posted on 28 March 2016 by La Habra Journal
By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal
The Lady Highlanders only needed a two-run second inning to top El Modena in the quarter final of the Woodbridge Tournament, thanks to a dominant performance from starting pitcher Janelle Rodriguez, who capped off the complete game shutout by striking out five of the final six batters she faced.
Rodriguez impressively needed just 13 pitches to strike out the side in the final inning, bringing her total to 11.
La Habra Head Coach Steve Harrington was confident that Rodriguez would dominate the game today.
“I knew once Janelle got the lead, they weren’t going to touch her today,” Harrington said. “There was no way they were going to touch Janelle today, they only hit one ball out of the infield.”
Rodriguez also helped set up the two-run second inning offensively. After Frankie Mendoza drew a leadoff walk, Rodriguez beat out an infield single to put runners on the corners. A couple batters later, Alyssa Alatorre drew a walk with the bases loaded to score the first run. Then Jayana Perez singled to the right-center gap, knocking in the game’s final run.
The meeting today marked the first time Harrington has faced his former team, since leaving El Modena one year ago. Harrington was the head coach for El Modena for over 14 years. According to him, the Lady Vanguards have changed quite a bit since his departure, and not necessarily for the better.
“That team is not the same team that I left when I got done coaching over there,” Harrington said. “It starts with the coaching staff and works its way down.”
Harrington pointed to the fact that the Lady Vanguards were not running out ground balls and were basically overly excited about making routine plays. The pre-game chatter coming from his former team didn’t sit well with Harrington either.
“You know they did a lot of trash talking early on, so I’m glad we came out and took care of business on the field,” Harrington said. “I was proud of our kids, because we didn’t fight back negatively, we just let our play represent us.”
El Modena’s only scoring opportunity came in the fifth inning. A leadoff single by Ashley Rock followed by a couple walks, loaded the bases for the Lady Vanguards. However, Rodriguez struck out Mackenzie Hoots to put an end to the rally.
Tonight’s win makes it 11 consecutive for the Lady Highlanders (13-1) this season, and moves the team on to the semifinal round, where they will face Villa Park on Saturday at 5:15 p.m., once again at Bill Barber Park in Irvine. Last Wednesday La Habra defeated Villa Park 1-0 in their only matchup this season. The winner of the contest will advance to the championship game on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at the same location.