By Steve Ramirez
WEST COVINA – Chino Hills, after clinching its third consecutive Sierra League title earlier this week, had nothing to play for Thursday.
That didn’t stop the Huskies from one of their better hitting efforts of the season.
Trish Parks had three hits and two RBIs and Alyssa Mendez hit a three-run home run as Chino Hills wrapped up league play with a 9-6 victory over host South Hills.
Kolby Romaine, Shianne Brannan and Brittney Garcia had two hits each for Chino Hills, which finished the regular season 23-7 overall and 9-1 in league play.
Melysa Ortega had two hits and two RBIs for South Hills, which slipped to 17-7 and 6-4. South Hills, which could have locked up second place and a possible home CIF-Southern Section playoff game with a win, drops into a three tie with Charter Oak and Ayala, which both won on Thursday. For playoff purposes, Ayala will be the league’s fourth-place team after a series of tie-break procedures, with South Hills and Charter Oak settling second with a coin flip this morning.
Chino Hills doesn’t have to worry about such a scenario after finishing the regular season by winning 13 of its final 14, including getting 15 hits against South Hills and taking an 8-0 lead before holding on Thursday for its 9-6 victory.
“Our kids were ready to play,” Chino Hills coach Mike Southworth said. “We went through a stretch of four or five games where we got good pitching and good defense, but didn’t really hit well. But they are capable of it and I was really proud of them. They made some good adjustments and the kids responded well. I thought we hit the ball as well as we’ve hit all year.”
Mendez, who also had a single to go 2 for 4, provided the spark, following singles by Parks and Romaine with a three-run homer to right field for an early 3-0 lead in the third inning.
Chino Hills then pushed it to 8-0 in the fourth. Chino Hills got back-to-back doubles from Kylee Card and Parks for a 5-0 advantage before Romaine had a RBI single and Brannan a RBI double to make it 7-0. Brannan scored on an error for an 8-0 lead.
“Our pitcher (Caitlin Van Hemelryck) wasn’t on today,” South Hills interim coach Brandon Gonzalez said. “When she’s on, the team’s on.
“We were down 8-0 at one point, and it’s really tough to come back from that. We scrapped away, but when you’re down eight runs, I don’t care against who, especially a team like this, it’s tough to come back.”
But South Hills gave it a fair shot.
The Huskies, getting an RBIs from Ortega in the fourth and fifth innings, cut it to 8-4. South Hills, taking advantage of a fielding error, made it 9-6 in the seventh on a RBI double by Christie Aguilar before Savanna Corr induced Ortega to fly out to end the game.
“I was definitely worried (in the seventh),” Southworth said. “They get another runner on and hit a three-run homer, which they have shown they can do in the past, you’ve lost the lead.
“But (Corr) did a good job. It shouldn’t have been 9-6. It was a good win for us, against a good team.”