By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
South Hills High School softball coach Scott Fisch said he might have pulled a muscle, one of the risks he takes every time the Huskies win CIF-Southern Section playoff games. Fisch lines up his team along the third-base line afterward, then circles the bases and makes a head first slide at home. He’s been doing it a lot lately, struggling to catch his breath after South Hills hung on for a 4-3 victory over fourth-seed Warren in Thursday’s Division 3 quarterfinals at home. (To continue click thread)
TUESDAY’S SEMIFINAL SCHEDULE
Chino Hills at Oaks Christian, 3:15 p.m.
South Hills at Bishop Amat, 3:15 p.m.
South El Monte at La Canada, 3:15 p.m.
Arroyo at Beaumont, 3:15 p.m.
Thursday’s quarterfinal results
Oaks Christian 4, St. Lucy’s 0
Chino Hills 6, La Serna 2
South Hills 4, Warren 3
Bishop Amat 9, Torrance 1
South El Monte 4, Marlborough 2
Arroyo 4, Savanna 3
St. Lucy’s goes quietly: The Regents managed only one in Thursday’s CIF-SS Division 3 quarterfinal – a total that was good enough for victory in its first-round game, but it wasn’t enough in a 4-0 loss to No. 1 seed Westlake Village Oaks Christian.
Chino Hills rolls: Chino Hills High School’s softball team put all three elements of its attack – pitching, hitting and defense – to use Thursday in a 6-2 victory over host La Serna in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.
“It doesn’t get old,” Fisch said of his postgame celebrations. “It’s worth it every time.”
South Hills (20-7), which reached the Division 5 championship game last year, advances to its second straight semifinal, where it will face second-seed Bishop Amat (25-3), a 9-1 winner over Torrance, in Tuesday’s semifinals at Amat.
“It’s nice to have a local game, great for the teams and great for the fans,” Fisch said. “(Bishop Amat coach) Jesse (Mendez) coached with our program a few years ago, so I’m really happy for him.
“It’s an exciting matchup, they’ve got the pitcher (Natalie Sanchez) and we’ve got the hitters, so we’re going to see which one’s a little better.”
One thing South Hills has been during its past two postseason runs is clutch, and Thursday’s win was no different.
South Hills pitcher Sydney La Follete was sailing along through three innings, then gave up a leadoff hit in the fourth to Stephanie Olivas, followed by a two-run homer from Tina Iosefa, staking the Bears to a 2-0 lead.
Warren pitcher Franny Vaaulu was giving the Huskies fits. She struck out five straight between the second and third innings, and got out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth.
But South Hills kept knocking on the door, loading the bases again in the fifth with two outs, then caught a break.
Junior Kristen Stewart hit a rocket toward second that bounced away for an error, allowing Brittney Amezquita and Lexi Robles to score to tie the score, 2-2.
Then La Follette followed with single, scoring Britney Rodriguez from third for a 3-2 lead.
Rodriguez added an insurance run in the sixth, singling home Amezquita to push the Huskies’ lead to 4-2.
The Huskies needed it.
Vaaulo legged out a single to open the seventh, then Amanda Vallejo doubled her home, trimming the Huskies’ lead to 4-3 with no outs and Vallejo on second.
But La Follete settled down, getting a fly out and consecutive ground-outs to end the game. She allowed just seven hits.
Rodriguez, who had two hits with an RBI and run scored, has a word for this kind of postseason magic.
“We always seem to clutch-up,” said the junior catcher who already has committed to UCLA. “We were kind of nervous at the beginning, but we clutch-up at the right time.”
It wasn’t just that, the Huskies turned three inning-ending double plays, and Amezquita, just a freshman, collected three hits and scored twice.
“People don’t give our infield enough credit,” Fisch said. “You hit the ball on the ground and it’s usually an out. We might make a mistake, but we rarely make two in a row.”
Fisch was especially pleased with Amezquita, who led off the fifth and sixth with base hits to get the Huskies going, scoring each time.
“She’s got either ice in her veins or she’s not smart enough to understand the situations,” Fisch said. “She doesn’t always (bat) for us, but she hits faster pitching, that’s why she was in there. You can pitch around Britney Rodriguez all you want, but we have others that can burn you, and today she (Amezquita) was as big as anyone for us.”