“The last three years they’re telling us to bring home that banner and it seems every year we choke in the semifinals, so hopefully this is the year we’ve straightened things out and figure out how to get it done.” – Bishop Amat catcher Lexi Gonzalez on preparing for the playoffs.
By Fred J. Robledo
If Bishop Amat catcher Lexi Gonzalez really turned on one, she might cause an accident on Orange Avenue.
Even when she doesn’t get all of it, it’s still enough to circle the bases.
The Oregon State-bound Gonzalez belted her fifth homer in the third inning, a two-run shot that was more than enough to help the Lancers to their third straight Del Rey League title, beating rival St. Paul 6-0 behind a complete game shutout from pitcher Sabrina Anguiano.
“I think she hit that off the hands,” Amat coach Jesse Mendez said. “She’s hit one to the street (in practice). But that’s her, she’s so consistent. They walked her the next time up to get to Amanda (Sanchez), who has six homers. That’s respect.”
Amat (19-4, 10-0) celebrated the league title with all the excitement of a collective yawn.
After back-to-back years of disappointing exits in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 semifinals, Amat is ranked third in Division 3 and getting anxious for another opportunity as the playoffs near.
“Every day, every game gets us that much closer and prepared for the ring we’re trying to bring home,”Gonzalez said. “The school has never won a CIF (softball) title. It’s a lot of pressure. The last three years they’re telling us to bring home that banner and it seems every year we choke in the semifinals, so hopefully this is the year we’ve straightened things out and figure out how to get it done.”
Anguiano was dominant again, tossing her tenth shutout while scattering five hits and relying on several great defensive plays, particularly from third baseman Brandy Galaviz.
But Amat’s offense to go with Anguiano is what makes the Lancers so dangerous.
Sophomore Mandy Larios was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and freshman Julia Valenzuela was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Victoria Saucedo and Larissa Munoz also had a double and run scored.
“We love our hitters,” Mendez said. “It doesn’t matter where you get us in the lineup, they can all get it done.”
St. Paul freshman pitcher Emilee Leonard competed and the Swordsmen had opportunities to push runs across, but coach Roberta Argott realizes the best is yet to come for her young group, which dropped to 14-11 and 8-3.
“They’re (Amat) a tough team for anyone,” Argott said. “Since the (circle) was pushed back a year ago, it’s become a hitter’s game and when you have hitters one through nine like they do, it’s tough to keep them down.
“But it’s a learning experience and we’ll grow. I thought (Leonard) did well considering what she was up against. She wasn’t intimidated, she battled and did the best she could.”