Los Osos locks up its first softball league title

It was an appropriate place to claim a league championship for the Los Osos High School softball team, given the banners hanging behind it on the Etiwanda outfield fence. The Grizzlies swept the season series from the four-time defending Baseline League champion Eagles with a 3-2 victory Wednesday, their third over Etiwanda this season.

It’s not as if a young Los Osos team dethroned the Eagles in a down year. All seven Etiwanda seniors have signed to play college softball and that doesn’t include junior shortstop Delaney Spaulding, who is verbally committed to UCLA. Nevertheless, a Los Osos team with just two seniors on the roster scratched out the one-run victory by making Etiwanda (17-6, 8-4) pay for an error that aided all the Grizzlies’ scoring in a three-run second inning.

The league championship is the first in school history for a Los Osos (19-4, 11-1) program surrounded by prominent programs.

“This is huge for us,” Los Osos coach Mike Randall said. “It’s a goal we set at the beginning of the season and to achieve it is special. Etiwanda is the best. You see all these banners around and you know it, so to do it against them is huge.”

Los Osos second baseman Paige Halstead went 3 for 3 and scored the winning run, but the freshman’s most unconventional hit was her most important. Halstead’s swinging bunt down the first-base line in the second prompted an errant throw from Etiwanda pitcher Melissa Taukeiaho that sailed into right field to allow the first Los Osos run across the plate. No. 9 hitter Cyrena Taylor then delivered a two-out, two-run single that scored Kayla Gray and Halstead to give Los Osos the lead for good.

One of the team’s seniors, pitcher Hannah Peterson, limited a powerful Etiwanda lineup featuring Spaulding and the Washington-bound Taukeiaho to one hit over the final five innings. Peterson allowed two runs on four hits with five walks.

“We were trying to squeak out a co-league title,” Etiwanda coach Dave Masucci said. “But they outhit us and they outplayed us. They deserve the league title.”

Etiwanda center fielder Jenna Isbel’s two-run triple in the first inning turned out to the hardest-hit ball all day. After Etiwanda fell being, Isbel made sure the one-run deficit didn’t grow by throwing out a runner at the plate to end the top of the seventh inning. But Peterson closed out the game by braving the top of the Etiwanda order, which has a combined 94 RBIs and 29 home runs.