That’s called a game face, Bonita’s Liza Liddell: Bonita, Diamond Bar photo galery
By Steve Ramirez
DIAMOND BAR – Bonita High School didn’t want to leave the race for the Hacienda League softball title to a winner-take-all scenario against second-place Diamond Bar on Friday.
The Bearcats, thanks to pitcher Bianca Cockrell and a first-inning error, won’t have to.
Cockrell was solid in the circle and Bonita took advantage of the early miscue to wrap up the league title with a 5-1 victory over Diamond Bar on Wednesday.
Cockrell allowed one hit through the first five innings before finishing with a five-hitter for the Bearcats, who improved to 21-6 overall and 11-0 in league play. Bonita, which shared the league crown with Diamond Bar in 2011, also received three hits from Berlyn Benavides.
Diamond Bar, getting an RBI from Dani Wilson, slipped to 12-13 and 8-3. The teams wrap up the regular season at Las Flores Park in La Verne on Friday.
“Diamond Bar is such a good team, we didn’t want to take anything for granted,” Bonita coach Ken Carlson said. “Bianca has been throwing some remarkable games and our offense has taken the pressure off of her. We wanted to take care of business here today and turn our focus to being 12-0 and get a good (CIF-Southern Section playoff) seeding.”
The Bearcats also got some help from Diamond Bar, which committed a key error in the first to give Bonita a 2-0 lead.
Chloe Melanson led off with a walk and advanced to third on a hit-by-pitch to Corrina Liscano and a stolen base. Veronica Ortega followed with a shallow fly out to keep both runners on second and third, but a fielding error on a groundball by Loraine Gatlin allowed Melanson and Liscano to score for the 2-0 advantage.
“Bonita is a good ball team,” Diamond Bar coach Roberta Garcia-Uyemura said. “You can’t give up any freebies, and we did that. Our defense didn’t play as well as we usually do. Against a good team like that, you can’t do that.”
Cockrell took it from there. She retired six of the first seven batters and gave up just one hit during the first five inings. She also struck out four.
“That first inning felt great, to have the pressure off,” Cockrell said. “It’s easy to pitch with a lead, so it felt good to be ahead.”
Bonita pushed it to 4-0 in the sixth on a two-out single by Benavides and back-to-back RBI doubles by Jazzlyn Costa and Melanson.
Diamond Bar cut it to 4-1 on a double by Summer Anderson, a single by Aubrey Horita and a RBI double by Wilson.
“(Cockrell) pitched a good game,” Garcia-Uyemura said. “I wish our team would have had the energy for the whole game that we had in the (last two innings).
“I think giving up those two runs in the first inning, it was hard to battle back from that. We had a couple of threats, but we couldn’t get that key hit.”
Cockrell, who gave up a hit-by-pitch and a double in the seventh, finished it off by inducing Anderson to ground out to clinch the league title.
“I feel we’re kind of proving to everybody what we can do,” Cockrell said of winning the league title after beginning the season by losing arguably its top two players. “We knew we could do it. I think people thought when they left that we wouldn’t be as good as we are, but we all knew, so it was good to prove it.”