By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
ALHAMBRA – Alashanee Medina walked up to the plate in the fourth inning knowing she had been struggling as of late.
Still, the Keppel High School junior is no easy out. She battled and made Marshall pitcher Cierra Newton work for every pitch.
Medina said she wanted to crush the ball, but a walk was just as effective. That much was accentuated when she reached second on a fielder’s choice before Vanessa Mendez doubled her home for a key run en route to the Aztecs’ 5-0 victory over the Eagles in a nonleague game Thursday.
“I just wanted to get on base and try to score that run as fast as possible,” Medina said. “I wanted to crush the ball, but just reaching base was still good because I was able to help my team out.”
Medina, the Almont League pitcher of the year as a sophomore, went the distance and struck out 14, allowing just two hits to record her sixth win of the season.
Brianna Becerra had two triples for the Aztecs (6-4), one each in the first and third innings, but it wasn’t until the fourth when Keppel saw its efforts pay off. Mendez made it 2-0 after Amanda Martinez singled her in.
“Brianna Becerra crushed the ball and did really well,” Medina said. “We’re all kind of in a little funk, but today it was great to see that we did pretty good.”
Marshall (3-5) squandered a big opportunity in the fifth when it loaded the bases. Newton led off and was hit by a pitch before Ashley Storms reached first on an error. Medina struck out Angelina Rezendez before walking Amy Zeronian. Medina, however, showed why she’s the league’s most feared pitcher, striking out the next batter to end the threat.
“We know what we’re going to get from her in the circle,” Keppel coach Bobby Madrid said, “but we have to play defense behind her.”
Keppel made it 5-0 in the fifth. Brianna Jimenez reached first on catcher’s interference and stole second before an error allowed Becerra to reach first and score Jimenez.
Angelica Pena followed with a bunt single to score Becerra.
Medina’s RBI single capped the Aztecs’ scoring.
“You can’t pitch around her, because you have girls that can hit behind her,” Madrid said of Medina. “You pitch to her and she’s going to hit the ball hard.”
Marshall coach Jason Taylor said the Eagles were stymied by Medina.
“She did a great job mixing up her pitches in the zone,” Taylor said. “She started that, really, for them and set the tone early on.”
Madrid said he was pleased to see the bats come alive for the Aztecs.
Keppel is expected to be improved in the coming weeks once senior Brittani Hirose completes her transition from basketball.
“Our leader of the pack is Brittani,” Madrid said. “Her making the (CIF State) playoffs in basketball took a bit of its toll, but we’re trying to get her quick at-bats.
“We haven’t put her on leadoff because we want her to see pitches, but we think by league she’ll be at the top of the lineup, where she belongs.”