By Stephen Ramirez
La Serna High School’s day of redemption has arrived.A year ago, the Lancers believed they left a championship on the table when they lost the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 softball title to region rival St. Paul. Now, after using that setback as motivation all season, La Serna gets its second chance when it faces top seed Grand Terrace for the Division 3 crown Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Barber Park in Irvine.La Serna is seeking its fourth CIF title. The Lancers won crowns in 1996, 2001 and 2008.“Obviously, this is what they’ve been working for all year,” La Serna co-head coach Mike Reed said. “This has been their goal. They are extremely excited and can’t wait to get back up there and see what we can do.“Grand Terrace is a well-coached, a very good team. They’re ranked No. 1; we’re ranked No. 2 and we’ll see what happens.”
The Titans are 26-3 and have won 16 consecutive games. They are led by sophomores Morgan Parsons and Eliyah Flores, who have 40 and 31 RBIs each, respectively. Melanie Olmos is the star in the circle at 18-3 with a 1.46 ERA. She also has 28 RBIs.
“I know how they play,” Reed said of Grand Terrace, who advanced with a 4-3 victory over Gahr in the semifinals. “They are a very good team. I know a lot of their girls from travel ball and know their two coaches very well. (But) likewise, they know us.”
La Serna (25-6) counters with senior Jamie Wren, who is 24-3 with a 1.10 ERA. She also leads the team with 34 RBIs and is hitting .464.
But the Lancers strength is depth and it includes one of the deeper lineups in the division. They also feature sophomore Dominique Mejia, who is hitting .396 and 25 RBIs, and junior Jelli Lopez, who is hitting .315 with 20 RBIs.
“It should be a good game,” Reed said. “If we can get to them early and work them over, then we’re going to come out on top. We’ll see what happens.
“Jamie, right now, is at the top of her game. She’s throwing better than she has all year long. She keeps improving and getting stronger and stronger.”
La Serna comes into the title game battle-tested, advancing to the finals after winning one-run games over Redondo (3-2 in 12 innings) and Bishop Amat (1-0) in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. The Lancers rallied back from a two-run deficit to beat Redondo before getting the shut-out from Wren vs. Amat.
“I think (the last two games) shows what type of integrity the girls have, the desire to win and do what they do best,” Reed said. “They are basically the same team we had last year, minus the three girls (who graduated). The girls who stepped into their place have stepped up.
“We just have to go out there and battle, do what we do best.”