By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
South Hills story: South Hills High School softball coach Scott Fisch wasn’t too concerned when the Huskies finished the season with a split against Charter Oak, who didn’t make the playoffs. The Sierra League is that deep, and so is the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs, which made South Hills’ come-from-behind 9-2 victory over visiting California even more meaningful in Thursday’s first round. South Hills (18-7) advances to Tuesday’s second round against Lakeside, a 7-6 winner over Mira Costa at a site to be determined by a coin flip.
Diamond Bar ousted: The sophomore made just her second start of the year Thursday after returning from a meniscus tear and Valenzuela went the distance to lead Colton to a 3-2 victory at Diamond Bar in a CIF-SS Division 2 first-round playoff game.
Amat rolling: Perhaps Bishop Amat High School pitcher Natalie Sanchez was a little too good on Thursday afternoon. In addition to scoring a run and pitching a complete-game gem, Sanchez laced a shot that went foul and broke the front windshield on her mother’s car parked nearby. That’s about the only thing the senior did wrong in a 3-0 win over Paramount in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 softball playoffs.
West Covina falls: “When I went up there, my game plan was to hit it hard on the right side,” the junior outfielder said following Thursday’s 3-2, eight-inning victory over visiting West Covina. “Luckily, I hit it in the gap and did what I was supposed to do.”
Notes: Bishop Amat opens day with easy 3-0 win over Paramount; St. Lucy’s does it again, knocks off Burroughs 1-0 behind a solid performance from pitcher Danielle O’Toole, who threw a one-hit shutout … Courtney Gano has a big day in Bonita’s 8-7 cliffhanger; Britney Rodriguez had two doubles and Syndey La Follette hit a two-run homer in the Huskies’ 9-2 win over California and in Duarte’s 3-2 loss to Alhambra, Duarte is protesting over Alhambra’s alleged illegal pre-game batting practice. Our reporter, Keith Lair covered the game and says Duarte has a strong case…Long Beach Wilson won a thriller over West Covina, 3-2.
CIF-Southern Section Playoffs
Long Beach Wilson 3, West Covina 2
Colton 3, Diamond Bar 2
Cajon 1, Los Altos 0
Bonita 8, Ontario 7
St. Lucy’s 1, Burroughs 0
Chino Hills 3, Quartz Hill 0
South Hills 9, California 2
Bishop Amat 3, Paramount 0
San Dimas 7, Palm Desert 1
Buena 1, Northview 0
Segerstrom 2, Covina 0
Alhambra 3, Duarte 2 — under protest for illegal batting practice.
Arroyo 1, Immaculate Heart 0
South El Monte 16, West Valley 11, 8 innings
Azusa 11, Mary Star of the Sea 2
South Hills (18-7) advances to Tuesday’s second round against either Lakeside or Mira Costa at a site to be determined by a coin flip. California finishes the season 13-11.
“I’ve been telling our players all year welcome to Division 3,” Fisch said. “The Sierra League prepared us for games like this because we’ve been in games like this all year. When we fell behind, we didn’t panic, we had a big inning and that got us going.”
South Hills pitcher Sydney La Follette had a big day, throwing a four-hitter with three hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth that iced it.
Junior catcher Britney Rodriguez batted leadoff for the first time this season, Fisch explaining with so many coaches pitching around or walking the UCLA recruit, that he wanted her to have at least one good at-bat.
Well, she had more than that.
Rodriguez doubled home a pair of runs in the fourth that gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead, which was the turning point. Rodriguez added another double and scored twice and Lexi Robles had a pair of hits to lead the Huskies.
“Britney has so much pressure on her, everyone knows who she is and sometimes we rely too much on her,” Fisch said. “It was great to see her get that clutch hit, but even better to see so many others step up. We can’t rely on one person, that won’t do it in the playoffs.”
California capitalized on a couple South Hills errors in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead — Samantha Duran and Chloe Michery both scoring.
Ironically, California gave it right back, committing an error in the fourth that led to five unearned runs and South Hills’ 5-2 lead.
Vanessa Molina’s two-out grounder gave the Huskies’ life, reaching first on an error and putting runners on first and third.
Sabrina Perez followed with an RBI single, Rodriguez doubled in two, Robles singled home a run and Sam Nieves doubled home two more.
South Hills added four runs in the sixth, punctuated by La Follette’s two-run homer.
The runs came in bunches, something the Huskies did plenty of in last year’s postseason run.
“Every time the other team takes the lead and it gets later in the game it’s scary,” La Follette said. “But my team always has my back and gets clutch hits in key situations.”
California pitcher Trish Trujillo went the distance, but gave up 12 hits.