You be the judge: This was the controversial sixth inning call. With Ayala and Amat tied 4-4, Mandy Larios’ two-out single scored Amat freshman Natalia Bocanegra to go up 5-4, and the Lancers tacked on three more runs after that. Our photographer, Keith Birmingham, one of the best in the business, caught the play at the plate, in which Bocanegra was ruled safe. It was definitely close. Amat won 8-4.
Chino Hills takes care of busines: For the Chino Hills softball team, a CIF-SS Division 3 semifinalist each of the past two seasons, that journey began anew on Thursday with a 4-1 victory over Nordhoff in a first-round game at Big League Dreams Sports Park.
Bishop Amat avoids disaster that led to semifinal blowout loss to South Hills last year by answering back after first-inning miscues
By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bishop Amat softball team kept its cool and overcame early jitters and a four-run deficit to pull out an 8-4 victory over Ayala in the first-round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs on Thursday.
The fourth-seed Lancers (22-6) will face either Chaminade or Torrance in the second round on Tuesday while Ayala finishes the season 15-12.
An error and fielders choice mishap allowed Ayala to get going with two runners on in the first. Danielle Velez made the Lancers pay, belting a single to drive in two runs, followed by Stevie Knapp’s run-scoring triple and Natalie Martinez’s RBI single to stake Ayala to a quick 4-0 lead.
For Amat, it immediate brought back memories of last year’s semifinal meltdown to South Hills, in which they fell behind 5-0 in the first inning and never recovered in a 16-1 blowout loss in the semifinals.
“As soon as we got in the dugout a lot of the girls were saying they didn’t want a repeat of last year,” Bishop Amat junior catcher Alexis Gonzalez said. “That’s been our motivation all year, to not let what happened last year happen again.
Guess who got Amat going? (To continue click thread)
Thursday’s Softball First-Round Results
Los Altos 10, Carter 6
Canyon Springs 4, Bonita 1
Camarillo 8, Diamond Bar 0
Mission Viejo 18, West Covina 1
St. Lucy’s 4, Lakewood St. Joseph 2
Bishop Amat 8, Ayala 4
Chino Hills 4, Nordhoff 1
Harvard-Westlake 2, Charter Oak 1
San Dimas 8, Loara 2
Ocean View 7, Northview 0
La Quinta 18, Wilson 4
Marymount 5, Duarte 2
Nipomo 4, Arroyo 0
South El Monte 8, San Jacinto 7
Godinez 11, Azusa 5
After Eryn Sustayta walked and Amanda Sanchez singled, Gonzalez answered with a line-drive three-run homer to left and the Lancers later tacked on another run to tie the score, 4-4.
It was Gonzalez’s 10th homer of the season.
“I was looking for something up in the zone to see and drive,” Gonzalez said. “I made sure I had a level swing and did what I did.
“We needed to answer and answer quick. We didn’t want to let the innings drag on and have to fight back later.”
Amat coach Jesse Mendez believed his team would fight back.
“That’s the difference between this team and last year’s team,” Mendez said. “This year’s team had it in them to come back and realize we had seven innings of ball left. That comes with maturity and Lexi answering with that big home run when we needed it. It definitely picked us up.”
It was a good thing, because it became a pitcher’s duel after that between Amat’s Sabrina Anguiano and Ayala’s Morgan Ettinger.
Ettinger followed the four-run first with four no-hit shutout innings before Amat’s bats came alive in the sixth with a two-out rally that netted four runs.
Still tied 4-4, Amat’s Mandy Larios belted a one-out single with freshman Natalia Bocanegra in to run for her. After Brandy Galaviz was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, Ettinger got a strikeout for the second out.
However, Sustayta’s hard single to left scored Bocanegra in a close play at the plate that Bulldogs coach John Ameluxen argued, believing catcher Martinez’s swiped Bocanegra before she crossed.
Amat wasn’t done, Amanda Sanchez’s single drove in two runs and Gonzalez singled home another to extend the Lancers’ lead to 8-4.
“The umpire is a good umpire,” Ameluxen said. “If he didn’t see her tag (Bocanegra), then that’s that.
“Bishop Amat is a fantastic team. They hit the ball hard and their pitcher was great. I hope they go far in the playoffs.”
Ayala’s Knapp was two-for-three with a triple and double and Martinez was three-for-three with a double for the Bulldogs.
Ayala made things interesting in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs. But Anguiano got a ground-out to end the game.
Amat’s Sanchez was two-for-four with two runs scored and Sustayta scored twice.
“It’s a good thing we scored four runs because if we didn’t we’re not playing as loose and comfortable in the seventh-inning without a four-run lead,” Mendez said. “They hit the ball hard, but we made some big outs and got the biggest out when we needed it to win the game.
“That’s the playoffs, you never know how these things are going to turn out.”