By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
WEST COVINA – Charter Oak must love the Big League Dreams facilities in West Covina, where the Chargers are hosting their annual high school softball tournament. Not only are the fields enormous and wide open, the slick artificial-surface outfields favor anything in the gaps, which the Chargers took full advantage of Tuesday.
Inside-the-park home runs from Charter Oak’s Samantha Valadez, Monique Villasenor, Cassie Andrews and Jayme Chessler led to a 17-4 victory over La Salle, helping the Chargers improve to 6-2 overall and 2-0 in the tournament after a 6-1 win over Covina on Monday.
Valadez had two hits and scored four runs and Andrews finished with three hits and two runs scored. The Chargers belted 16 hits in the four-inning win.
“We’re hitting the ball well, all of us,” Valadez said. “Just trying to make good contact.”
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After winning both games in pool play, the Chargers advance to Friday’s semifinals against a team to be determined, but first open Sierra League action at home Thursday against defending league champion Ayala.
The Chargers have good reason to feel good about themselves, already boasting early-season victories over Bonita and West Covina.
“I think we’re a year older and a year better,” Chargers coach Scott Higuera said. “We were great hitting the ball with two outs today. I don’t know how many we scored with two outs, but it’s always nice when you swing the bat as well as we did today.”
Charter Oak’s Nicki Sprague opened the first with a leadoff walk and moved to third following a sacrifice and wild pitch. With two outs, Valadez lined a shot to right-center that she legged out for an inside-the-park home run, staking the Chargers to a 2-0 lead.
Hailey Mcguigan’s bloop single to right scored Villasenor, and Raeleen Tellez’s single to left scored Andrews, giving the Chargers a quick 4-0 cushion.
Valadez struck again in the second, her two-out double scoring Sprague from second. Then Villasenor belted a liner to right-center that she turned into a two-run inside-the-park homer to push the Chargers’ lead to 7-0. Andrews made it 8-0 with another inside-the-park homer.
The Lancers battled back in the third, with Stephanie Ferri belting a bases-loaded double to left to score Meaghan Allen and Madison Worley, trimming the Chargers’ lead to 8-2.
Andrews, who struck out four in the first two innings for the Chargers, was replaced by junior pitcher Jessica Fabela, but the Lancers still picked up two more runs in the third.
“I’m not going to make any excuses, Charter Oak’s a very good team,” Lancers coach Rich Diaz said. “We wanted to put the ball over the plate and make them deal with it, and they did a good job of putting hits together and scoring runs.”