SEMIFINAL BOUND: La Habra players celebrate after clinching a spot in the CIF-Southern Section semifinals with a 2-1 victory over Dos Pueblos on Thursday.
Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger
And then there was one. On area softball team, which is La Habra after beating Dos Pubelos 2-1 in a Division 4 quarterfinal. La Mirada, hoping to get another shot at a division crown and get back to the finals, lost 2-1, at Don Lugo, which scored the winner in the seventh.
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
LA HABRA — The CIF-Southern Section quarterfinals have seemed like the La Habra High School softball team’s breaking point in recent years.
But no more.
Shanin Thomas and Racquel Manzo had RBIs in the fourth inning and Taylor Pierce was dominant in relief and the host Highlanders advanced to its first CIF-SS semfinal since the 1980s with a 2-1 victory over No. 3 seed Dos Pueblos in a Division 4 quarterfinal on Thursday.
La Habra, also getting a solid five innings in the circle from Vanessa Ciocatto, improved to 23-8. The Highlanders, who lost to La Quinta in the quarterfinals last season, will travel to either Kaiser or Cerritos Valley Christian, who play today, in Tuesday’s semfinals.
The finals are slated for Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine, on June 1 and 2. La Habra’s last division title was in 1981, when it beat St. Joseph, of Lakewood, for the 3-A chamionship.
Dos Pueblos, which won the division last season, finished 25-4. Pitcher Hannah Harris gave up five hits and struck out six for the Chargers.
Maleena Esparza, the reigning Daily News Player of the Year, started the rally by drawing her second walk. Thomas, who lined out in the first after Esparza walked, then came up big, lining a double to left-center field to score Esparza for a 1-0 lead.
Manzo, who had a key RBI double in the Highlanders’ 6-5 victory over Ocean View in the second round, followed with a ground-ball single to center to easily score Thomas for a 2-0 lead.
Pierce struck out five in two innings for the save.
La Habra coach Frank McCarroll: “It’s been a while. This time last year we were all in tears coming home from La Quinta, because we lost 2-1 on an error. We didn’t want that to happen this year.”
Thomas (on getting the game-winning RBI: “That’s happened to me more times than I can count (Esparza being walked in front of her). That’s the biggest boost in the world. Walking someone in front of me shows no respect, so I’m going to show them they should walk me instead.”
Thomas (on going to the semifinals): “It feels great, especially since last year I threw the ball away. It’s just great to get past (this round). Being a senior, I feel like this is our season. It’s cool to get that final out. You get the best feeling. It’s my team, and I want to lead them to the championship.”