CIF-Southern Section Division 3 Softball Semifinals
Chino Hills 7, Bishop Amat 3
South Torrance 2, St. Lucy’s 0
South Torrance 2, St.Lucy’s 0: St. Lucy’s had overcome its share of off-field turmoil to make its deepest postseason run in seven years.
That made the Regents’ 2-0 loss to South Torrance in Tuesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 semifinals that much harder to take.
By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
All the heartbreak and pain the Chino Hills High School softball team suffered through in losing three straight CIF-Southern Section Divisional semifinal games became yesterday’s news with one big swing.
Chino Hills catcher Paige Gumz broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run homer to left in the sixth inning and the Huskies kept their foot on the gas to post a 7-3 victory over Bishop Amat to advance to the Division 3 championship this weekend at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.
It was the top-seed Huskies’ (31-3) 25th consecutive win and they will meet South Torrance, a 2-0 winner over St. Lucy’s, in the championship either Friday or Saturday in hopes of winning the school’s second title and first since beating El Dorado 2-1 for the Division 2 title in 2005.
“It couldn’t of happen to a better kid,” Chino Hills coach Mike Southworth said of Gumz’s tie-breaking homer. “I guess if you had to write a script with a scenario of one of your seniors to get a big hit, she’s one of the girls you would root for.
“She’s just special. She’s improved every year on her hitting and she’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever been around. For her to be that girl in that situation to deliver it for us is what I just said, it’s special.”
Chino Hills scored twice in the first and led 2-0 until Bishop Amat’s Amanda Sanchez doubled to left in the fifth inning to bring in Miranda Larios and Brandy Galaviz to tie the score 2-2.
Amat had a chance to add a couple more runs, but Chino Hills pitcher Nikki Innamorato got Amat’s big threat Lexi Gonzalez to ground out with go-ahead runners on second and third to get out of the fifth.
Chino Hills immediately struck back in the sixth.
Arizona State-bound shortstop Nikki Girard, who doubled in the Huskies’ two runs in the first and doubled in the third, delivered her third hit, a one-out single to get the inning going.
Garie Blando followed with a grounder to second that Amat tried to turn a double play on, but the throw hit Girard in the back going to second and everyone was safe.
“We get that double play it’s a different game,” Amat coach Jesse Mendez said. “Against another team we might get away with it, but not them.”
He was right, because the Fresno State-bound Gumz delivered the dagger with a three-run shot and was thinking of the past stepping into the box.
“I was thinking of the last three years and how we had the semifinals curse,” Gumz said. “I really wanted to step up and break it.
“But I don’t get that chance without Nikki and Garie getting on. I got the (homer), but it was a team effort all the way.”
Chino Hills wasn’t done, sophomore Patricia Parks’ two-out single drove in two more to complete a five-run sixth to stake the Huskies to a comfortable 7-2 lead.
“We had to get over this hump,” Girard said. “It was our fourth straight year in the semifinals. We didn’t want to go home again. You have to give it up to everyone, there were so many clutch hits and for Paige, she’s been our leader all year.”
Bishop Amat’s Cassie Padilla led off the bottom of the sixth with a double and later scored, but after rallying to tie it, falling behind five runs was too much to overcome.
“There were a couple plays in the game that made the difference and that’s what happens when two good teams face, it’s the little things,” Mendez said. “I thought we hit the ball well, we pitched well, but they’re a great team and they took advantage of the opportunities we gave them, so give them credit.
“But I’m proud of my girls, they fought and came up short against a very good team.”