Softball: La Caada heads back to the semifinals with 8-1 win over Katella; Mayfield falls to Kern Valley, 4-2.

MAYFIELD STORY: One close play is all it took to decide the fate of the Mayfield Senior School softball team on Thursday afternoon. Josie Luck was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a passed ball and host Kern Valley scored a 4-2 victory in the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinals. (CLICK ON THREAD TO READ STORY)

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE – The last time La Caada trailed in a game was just over a month ago.

And much like they did then, the Spartans, albeit trailing just 1-0 this time, showed resilience and were unfazed while playing from behind.

Megan Siepler’s three-run double in the second inning was all La Caada needed as Lauren O’Leary took care of the rest by going the distance in the circle and striking out 10 in the Spartans’ 8-1 victory over Katella on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.

The top-seeded Spartans (24-3) make their second semifinals appearance Tuesday when they host South El Monte.

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O’Leary (22-2) allowed six hits and one unearned run, and Siepler, a senior second baseman, went 2 for 4 with two doubles and four RBIs.

Katella (20-8), for all its hitting prowess with four girls on its roster with at least 20 RBIs, was held to a first-inning run when Heather Salibury reached on an error. Melissa Zuniga then connected on a 1-2 pitch for a double that landed just inside the left-field line to put runners on first and second.

Melissa Biddle’s bloop single over third baseman Aubri Thompson gave Katella a 1-0 lead.

O’Leary struck out the next two batters looking as the visiting Knights left two runners on base.

La Caada turned double plays in the third and fourth innings to dissipate any Katella momentum. By then, the Spartans led 5-0.

“This is a veteran team and veteran teams respond,” said coach KC Mathews, whose Spartans trailed Hart 2-0 on April 23 before rallying to win, 6-4. “We kicked the ball around a little bit, but we picked each other up and made some plays and started two double plays.

“When you have Lauren in the circle, one run isn’t going to be enough.”

La Caada loaded the bases in the first but couldn’t capitalize on two of nine walks issued by Salibury. That wouldn’t be the case in the second inning when Shirley Drange led off with a walk. Selina Mohr reached first on an error and Jessica Ogden advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt.

Anna Edwards then drew a walk to load the bases and Kelsey Drange’s bloop single to center tied it 1-1.

Catherine Horner drew a walk on a full count to score Mohr, setting the stage for Siepler.

“We were a little nervous (trailing),” Siepler said. “We kept our composure and we told ourselves we’re good hitters and have been here before. We can hit so we just concentrated on getting that pitch to drive.”

Salibury issued three walks in the fourth and a Siepler sacrifice fly scored Edwards to make it 6-1. Ogden scored on a wild pitch in the fifth to make it 7-1 and Thompson’s RBI single up the middle on the first pitch scored Siepler to cap the Spartans scoring.

“They’re a great team with a great pitcher,” Katella coach Melissa Graham said. “They’re No. 1 for a reason.”

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MAYFIELD STORY, CONT’D:

At the time, the play was very significant. The Prep League co-champion Cubs (16-8) had scored two runs earlier in the inning to close the Broncs’ lead to 3-2.

“I do think it changed the game a little,” Mayfield coach Jennifer Moulden said. “We were still charging to come back and I think those two runs had changed the momentum of the other team a little bit. You could see their momentum going out.”

Trailing 3-0 in the second inning, Claire Penney drew a one-out walk and stole second. Kaitlin Fitzpatrick singled down the left-field line to put runners on the corners. Fitzpatrick stole second and was replaced by pinch runner Carrie Morris. Josie Luck then drew a walk to load the bases.

Marina Marmolejo then hit a bunt and the Broncs (25-3) waited to make the throw. They overthrew at first base, scoring Penney. Morris then scored on a wild pitch. Luck, however, was called out trying to score on the passed ball.

“It was a close call,” Moulden said. “I thought she was safe, but the umpire called it otherwise.”

The second-seeded Broncs, who have won 19 consecutive games, took advantage of five hits in the first inning to score three runs.

Mayfield had no other really good chances to score. Kern Valley, the High Desert League champion, scored its final run in the fourth.

It could have been more, except for the play of Cubs shortstop Jessica Parada. She made one play in which she tagged a base runner and then completed a double play with a tag of another runner.