By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
PASADENA — It turns out that Keppel High School’s Alashanee Medina is hittable, but what separates the best from the rest is poise and composure in pressure moments.
Medina was cool, calm and collected when Marshall turned up the heat, striking out the the final five batters of the game to lead the Aztecs to a 4-2 nonleague victory Wednesday afternoon at Marshall High.
Keppel (8-0) continued its strong start and wraps up nonleague play at Maranatha today. Marshall (8-1) for its part proved it belongs as a CIF-Southern Section Division 6 contender despite not being ranked in the coaches’ top 10 poll. Keppel is No. 4.
Medina, a senior, struck out 15 and gave up one run on three hits and one walk. She made 93 pitches (66 strikes). Marshall’s Cierra Newton also went the distance, making 127 pitches (74 strikes) while giving up three runs, eight hits and four walks. She struck out seven.
The game was seemingly in hand for Keppel when Marshall made its push in the sixth.
Natalie Hale laid a bunt to lead off, beat the throw to first and advanced to second on a passed ball. That brought up Amy Zeronian, who reached first base on a throwing error and moved to second on the throw home. Hale beat the throw to put the Eagles on board, 3-1.
Zeronian, a junior shortstop, advanced to third on a wild pitch before Newton’s RBI single cut the deficit to 3-2. After that, Medina was lights out despite weathering flu-like symptoms.
“She showed a lot of guts because she’s real sick,” Keppel coach Bobby Madrid said. “We didn’t think we were going to pitch her today but she battled.”
Keppel scored a run in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh inning, and the Aztecs got on board first thanks to one of Marshall’s three errors.
Sammie Mendez reached base on an uncharacteristic Zeronian throwing error to first, which got away and allowed Mendez to reach second. The Aztecs capitalized on their first break after Nicole Torres connected on a 3-1 pitch for an RBI single.
Newton weathered through the error and wild pitches that put runners on the corner, and Zeronian rebounded with a solid play at short to end the threat.
Keppel’s Karen Lieng hit a home run in the fourth and Torres singled in Mendez in the sixth. Medina helped her cause in the seventh with a sacrifice fly to left fielder Gracie Gaspara that scored Lindsay Kui, who drew a full-count walk.
Marshall gets ready for the Alpha League next week, where the Eagles will face Calvary Chapel, the defending Division 6 champion.
“It was a good test to see where we’re at in our league,” Marshall coach Jason Taylor said.”
It was a more competitive game than last season when the Aztecs rolled to a 5-0 victory. Still, errors and wild pitches proved to be the difference this time around.
“There’s just a few things we need to clean up and we’re in the game,” Taylor said.