Softball: Keppel still undefeated with win over Marshall.

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.

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Baseball: Temple City escapes with 4-3 win over La Canada; Rams overcome 14 consecutive ball pitches in the seventh inning. San Marino beat South Pasadena 7-2 to remain 2-0 in league while Monrovia is on a bye.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

TEMPLE CITY — There was every reason to believe that Temple City High School’s Corey Copping would finish the job on the mound in the seventh and come away unscathed despite two errors by the Rams in the first inning.

Copping, in the seventh with a two-run lead, recorded two quick outs on a pop up and fly out to right, and all seemed to be in control.

Keyword, seemed.

The game nearly fell apart for the Rams after Copping, Benji Sanderson and Kyle Starling combined to deliver 14 consecutive ball on pitches that allowed La Canada to cut the game to a one-run deficit and the bases loaded.

But after a quick warm-up and switching from first base, Starling on a 1-1 count got the final out on a pop fly to center, allowing Temple City to escape with a 4-3 victory over La Canada on Tuesday afternoon in Rio Hondo League play.

While the boisterous crowd may have been treated to a game filled with suspense, the feeling was mixed among Temple City coach Barry Bacon — “A very sloppy game” — and La Canada coach Dennis Ballard — “We gave it away” — who sat through a combined five errors and four wild pitches.

The near-giveaway started with an unassuming 3-1 walk from Copping to Cole Herzer. A wild pitch put Herzer at second, adding fuel to the fire. Then it was evident that Copping had grown fatigued after a 3-2 walk to Jacob Yonan. Sanderson came in relief, but his first throw was a check-throw to first base that went high and out of reach, advancing the runners one base.

Kevin Paynter drew a four-pitch walk as did Matteus DeFaria, whose walk scored Herzer to make it 4-3. Starling was next on the mound, and his first pitch — like the previous 13 pitches — was a ball high before delivering a strike and finally getting Clayton Hermann to fly out to Sanderson at center to end the suspense.

“We kind of lost focus of what we were doing,” Bacon said. “We thought we would come out in the seventh and boom, boom, boom, no problem. We just lost focus. It was kind of strange. (Copping’s) never done that in three years we’ve had him.”

And therein lies the reason Bacon never thought about yanking Copping from the mound.

“Not in a million tries would I guess that he would have lost it like that,” he said. “He battled being down 2-0. I think he just got tired.”

There was no silverlining for La Canada (7-4, 0-1), which continues its tough week and prepares to host a resurgent San Marino (8-1, 2-0) team on Friday.

“We gave it away,” La Canada coach Dennis Ballard said. “It was a mental lapse that really hurt us. They tried to give it back to us. We didn’t really earn that ending. We exchanged quitting on the game. We’re really disappointing in that. It was a bad loss. We got beat by a good team, but I feel we’re as good as they are. We gave it away and that’s what hurts.”

Temple City improved to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in league, a feat that looked like an early giveaway.

With aggressive base running and a couple of Temple City errors, the Spartans manufactured a 2-0 lead that started with a Hermann single. Johnny Selsor reached first on a throwing error and a Scott Moulin ground out allowed Hermann to score on the throw to first. Selsor made it 2-0 on an Anthony Mizrahi sacrifice fly.

La Canada capitalized from Temple City miscues early, and the Rams returned the favor starting in the third inning.

Ben Arue singled to lead off the third and advanced to second on a Cameron Legrand sacrifice bunt. Tony Valencia then advanced to third on a catcher’s interference before a balk on La Canada pitcher Mitch Russell advanced the runners with one out. Starling’s sacrifice fly to center allowed Arue to score and make it 2-1.

Arrue was at it again in the fifth, this time tying the game after connecting on a 3-2 pitch for a home run to deep center.

The miscues continued in the sixth for La Canada.

Temple City’s Corey Copping drew a walk on a full count with Herzer in relief. Corey stole second before twin Calvin connected on a 3-2 pitch for a single. Sanderson advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt before a wild pitch scord Corey to give Temple City its first lead, 3-2, while Calvin held at third. He wouldn’t be there long, as another wild pitch after a ground out allowed Calvin to score.

Despite a rough start and end, Corey Copping was solid on the mound. He pitched threw 95 pitches (65 strikes) in 6 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on one hit. He struck out seven and gave up two walks.

Russell pitched five innings for the Spartans and gave up two earned runs on four hits and three walks.

“Other than the home run we scored our runs on sloppy defense,” Bacon said. “It wasn’t our best game and it wasn’t their best game.”

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Baseball: La Salle crushes St. Monica in Del Rey opener

La Salle beat St. Monica 14-0 in the Del Rey Leauge opener. Austin Wallis (below) pitched a solid game for the Lancers and Bowdien Derby and Nick Brown (below) each hit a home run to set up the HUGE showdown on Friday at Bishop Amat. Unfortunately for me I won’t be there, but our Fred Robledo will be there tweeting score updates.

Photos courtesy of John Blackstock

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Softball: La Salle is back home at LDS Field.

Remember last year the debaccle that had La Salle’s softball team hopping on a bus for a “home” game at Big League Dreams Park in West Covina? No more! The Lancers are back home at Latter Day Saints Field after a one-year hiatus and make their home debut at 3:15 today in the Del Rey League opener against St. Joseph. If it feels that long since you’ve been to LDS Field, mapquest this: 770 Sierra Madre Villa Ave., Pasadena. The field is literally a few blocks away from La Salle High. No more sitting in traffic to and from West Covina during rush hour. Below are some photos, starting with home plate and a view of left and right field that now includes a fence. Let the home run derby begin.

Photos courtesy of La Salle High

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Baseball: La Salle can’t look ahead to Bishop Amat on Friday.

The league opener is a big day regardless of opponent, but for the La Salle High School baseball team that can be a challenge.

That’s because the Lancers (4-2-1) open Del Rey League action at home today against St. Monica, a team that is 1-8 overall and already 0-1 in league. But that’s not the most challenging part for La Salle: it’s not looking ahead to Friday’s mega matchup on the road against rival Bishop Amat, the No. 3 team in the latest CIF-Southern Section Top 10 coaches poll. La Salle is unraked.

“They are kids,” La Salle coach Harry Agajanian said. “A lot of times they could do that, but I think as the game wears on our kids are pretty good about playing the way we know we can play.”

Look for Austin Wallis to head the mound today while ace Bowdien Derby gets ready for Bishop Amat, who likely will throw standout and USC-commit Rio Ruiz.

La Salle opened the season as the No. 1 team in the Star-News coverage area, but its record doesn’t seem to imply prowess, at least on the surface. The Lancers earned a tie against Temple City in the Elks tournament and lost in a 10-inning marathon to Arcadia in the consolation bracket, a close game that ended on a game-winning RBI single for a 1-0 score. Over the weekend, La Salle split against Cathedral in a doubleheader.

But don’t look for Agajanian to dwell on what’s happened so far. It’s what lies ahead that he’s more concerned about.

“I’m looking at down the road at how we’re going to do at the end of the season,” he said.

And along the way are short-term goals that involve no one else but La Salle, starting with the offense.

“We want to be a high on-base percentage team this year,” Agajanian said. “We want to balance our walks and strikeouts and have a well-used offense. When I say that I mean play as a complete offense. We were playing as a bunch of good hitters. But we moved some kids around the lineup and shifted things around and it seems to be clicking.”

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Baseball: Mystery surrounding Esquival’s resignation.

St. Francis coach Brian Esquival, who had been at the helm since 2008, abruptly resigned his position, the school announced over the weekend. Aaron Milam has been named the interim coach until further notice, according to a release sent out by the school. “With Aaron’s coaching experience and knowledge of our players , we are confident in his ability and believe he will provide a smooth transition for the program,” said St. Francis athletic director Terry Terrazone, who did not return a call seeking comment. Esquival did not return a call seeking comment either.

Below: Brian Esquival in the middle.

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Softball: La Caada to share the spotlight, raise money for American Cancer Society when Spartans host San Marino on Friday in Rio Hondo League showdown.

They say that no athlete or coach is ever above the sport, but there are real-life causes that can overshadow sports.

In this case, it’s the American Cancer Society which will take center stage on Friday night when the La Caada High School softball team hosts Rio Hondo League rival San Marino. It’s a game under the lights that features arguably the two best pitchers in the area in La Caada’s Lauren Cox (1.12 ERA, 51 strikeouts) and San Marino’s Michelle Floyd, a 6-foot-4 junior who is second in the state in strikeouts with 114 and has a 0.71 ERA.

“We say all the time that playing sports is more than wins and losses,” La Caada coach KC Mathews said. “And this is one of those events where the girls have really gotten into the spirit of it and doing more than just playign softball.”

It started three years ago through donations at La Caada’s annual 100-inning game, raising roughly $400. The event then was moved under the lights last year in conjunction with San Marino, raising approximately $1,000. Already, La Caada has raised $2,500 through sponsorship of a program that will debut at Friday’s game, an idea that came to fruition courtesy of junior Jessica Ogden who wanted to be more involved, and has so far gone above and beyond.

“She has really taken the lead and created the program for the game,” Mathews said.

Perhaps the best part is that 100 percent of the proceeds go to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society. Also, players from both teams will wear specially made t-shirts for the game instead of jerseys, La Caada in pink and San Marino in white. Those who donate $20 will receive a shirt.

But the donation drive isn’t all La Caada is commited in doing. The Spartans will take part in the Relay for Life, a 24-hour walk-a-thon- on Mother’s Day weekend at Clark Magnet School in La Crescenta.

“We took a tour of the facility in Pasadena,” Mathews said. “It really touched the girls and they’ve asked more to get invovled.”

Ogden in particular who took the idea and ran with it. Now, the school’s athletic council has challenged other sports to participate.

The game expects to draw a big crowd, which could bring in more donations and a longer line for the planned catering truck that will sell burgers.

“The fact that it promises to be a good competitive game at the same time for fans to come out and see makes this that much more impactful,” Mathews said.

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Softball: Marshall will face challenge vs. Keppel

Marshall (7-0) is not ranked in the latest Division 5 poll, but the Eagles look to make some noise when they host Keppel on Wednesday. Keppel (6-0) is No. 4.

It’s been a turnaround year for Marshall, which is off to its best start since Eagles coach Jason Taylor took over the program in 2002.

The success can be linked to a more balanced approach, and Star-News All-Area shortstop Amy Zeronian has gotten some much needed help. Freshman Miranda Bielski, a catcher, and Breana Howard, a left fielder/first baseman, have given Marshal much needed depth and plenty of help for pitcher Cierra Newton, a senior.

“We have two freshman who have come and really helped us at key positions,” Taylor said. “And with our senior leadership, everything seems to be coming together.”

Marshall has beaten its opponents by a combined score of 82-17, and that includes wins over Pasadena (12-0 and 7-5), El Monte (11-1) and Workman (13-3).

Marshall will face its toughest test when it takes on Keppel’s Alashanee Medina, a junior standout who flirted with a perfect game last week and struck out 13 against Alverno.

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