By Dave Thorpe, Staff Writer
SAN PEDRO – Lauren Cox was even more masterful than her usual dominant self in the circle, and La Canada was opportunistic on offense during its 7-0 victory over Mary Star of the Sea in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon at the San Pedro Softball Complex.
Cox threw a one-hitter with 20 strikeouts to go along with three walks. Her performance propels La Canada (24-4-1) to the semifinals on Tuesday, when it will host Nipomo – a 1-0 winner at Hemet.
It marks the third straight semifinals appearance for La Canada, which captured a CIF-SS title last year.
Cox’s 20 strikeouts is a season high for a seven-inning game, but she amassed 23 strikeouts in a 14-inning 0-0 tie against Monrovia on March 27.
“It was nice because they had not seen me before, so it’s different,” Cox said. “I felt I had all of my pitches working, so I was excited about that.”
Cox credited her catcher and the confidence she has in her defense for the big effort.
“Catherine (Horner), our catcher, really gives me confidence to throw any pitch in any situation,” Cox said. “She’s a wall back there. We felt dominant working together and I know as a team, they have my back.”
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La Canada coach K.C. Mathews said he’s come to expect a certain level of excellence from Cox this season. After all, the senior is 22-3 and has 298 strikeouts in 177 1/3 innings.
“You don’t expect 20 strikeouts, but this year she’s been special,” Mathews said.
Cox was helped along by a La Canada offense that struck early and often, scoring five runs in the first two innings to essentially put the game out of reach.
La Canada’s offense was led by center fielder Selina Mohr, who went 3 for 4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Horner had two hits, an RBI and a run scored and Katy Lee had a successful squeeze bunt and reached base four out of five times, with two runs scored and an RBI.
In the first inning, La Canada loaded the bases with two outs on two walks and an infield single. Jessica Ogden then lofted a well-placed shallow fly ball down the left-field line that fell for a two-run double.
In the second inning, La Canada scored three runs on three hits and Lee’s squeeze bunt. Mohr singled and scored on Horner’s double and Kelsey Drange had an RBI single.
“Getting going early was big for us,” Mathews said. “We took advantage of some walks and Ogden’s big double – it wasn’t hit hard but there were two outs and we were running all the way. We felt their pitcher (Marina Vitalich) would be difficult to get to, so to get a couple early and then sending Cox to the (circle), we felt good about that.”
By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
MONROVIA – The season came to an end for the Monrovia High School softball team on Thursday afternoon, but you couldn’t tell by the smiles on the players’ faces.
That’s because there’s plenty of reasons to smile with a future looking bright. And while youth could be blamed for the Wildcats’ 4-0 loss to Beaumont in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs, it’s also that youth that has Monrovia looking up.
The Wildcats (17-9-1) made one of their deepest playoff runs despite a strong mix of underclassmen that included three sophomores and three freshmen with starting roles. That’s a stark difference against Beaumont (24-4), a team loaded with experience and looking to make its second consecutive finals appearance. The Cougars lost last season in the division final to La Canada, 1-0.
“It’s a young team and our future is bright,” first-year Monrovia coach Dave Guzman said. “The only thing different now is how much we’ll fly under the radar next year.”
The Wildcats’ nerves were running high early, and it showed.
Beaumont’s Kaylee Gemmell, second in the lineup, hit a hard line drive to right field. The ball was misjudged, giving Gemmell a triple. On the relay throw she headed home and a throwing error from third allowed her to score and give the Cougars the only run they would need.
“We had a freshman at that position (right field) and you get a little excited. It takes a minute before your heart slows down,” Guzman said. “It really came down to the youth, but it’s definitely something we’re going to grow on.”
Khasidy Valdivia later drove in Alyssa Fuimaono for a 2-0 lead in the first. Alainah Ortiz in the second led off with a single, advanced to second on a Jackie Reilley sacrifice bunt and scored on Gemmell’s single. The Cougars added an insurance run in the fifth on an Ortiz suicide squeeze that scored Valdivia.
Fuimaono took care of the rest, needing just 83 pitches (63 strikes) to go the distance. She struck out six and gave up five hits.
Monrovia sophomore Adrienne Guerra made 128 pitches (80 strikes) and also pitched a complete game. She struck out six, walked four and gave up two earned runs on eight hits.
One bad omen for the Wildcats was that they had won just two games at home all year. Monrovia, which is 9-0 this year playing on a neutral site, attempted moving the game to Citrus College but Guzman said it was too expensive. Instead, Guzman put up an outfield fence for the first time. Neither team hit a home run.
Monrovia threatened in the second inning with Brooke Mann at third after a single, bunt and wild pitch. But the Wildcats left her stranded.
It happened again in the third, and that was Monrovia’s golden opportunity.
Adrienne Guerra connected on a 1-2 pitch for a single. Elise McCarthy, who made a spectacular sliding catch in the top of the third, showed her speed when she bunted her way to first to put runners at first and second with no outs. But Fuimaono didn’t buckle. She got out of the jam with a popup to third, flyout to center and groundout to second.
“That’s pretty much the way it went today,” Guzman said. “We’ve had great games where we’ve manufactured great runs. We always threaten but we weren’t able to get them across when we needed them.”