By John Sherrard
MONTEBELLO >> Schurr High School’s softball team scored 24 runs in its \first three CIF Southern Section playoff games, but the Spartans ran into a pitcher that ended the scoring spree and their season.
Notre Dame junior pitcher Alyssa Molina struck out 15 batters and the Sherman Oaks school won the Division 6 quarterfinal game 5-2 on Thursday.
The Spartans advanced deep into the playoffs for the first time in more than 13 years. Notre Dame will face St. Anthony on Tuesday in the semifinals. It is the first time the Knights have reached the round.
“The is the toughest (pitcher) since the (April 24) Montebello game,” Schurr coach Bobby Madrid said. “We just didn’t have the discipline and went after her riseball. We saw her riseball early and not until the fifth inning we were able break through with some hits.”
The Spartans (21-4-1), trailing 5-0, collected four hits in the final three innings, including a two-run home run by junior Valerie Alcala in the sixth inning. With no fence at Schurr, the speedy Alcala easily outran the relay back into the infield.
“It (home run) feels real good and helped build up my confidence,” said Alcala, who was the only Spartan to hit a home run in the four playoff games. “I think in the first couple of innings we were just too relaxed and we finally got a few hits later in the game.”
Schurr’s Kristina Chavez reached first on a single and got into scoring position at second on a passed ball in the first inning. Molina struck out the final batter and then fanned 10 of the next 15 Spartan batters through the fifth inning.
Two Notre Dame batters reached base against Schurr starting pitcher Sienna Perez in the first two innings. However, the Knights broke through in the third with three runs on three hits, which was highlighted by a two-run single by senior Jessica Fox, scoring Taylor Learnihan (2 for 4) and Julia Vargas (2 for 4). Molina singled and Fox scored when the ball was bobbled. The Knights scored twice more in the fourth.
The Spartans tried to rally in the seventh inning with two consecutive singles by Brianna Mendizabal and Victoria Lujan. But Notre Dame reliever Sydney Goldman struck out the final two batters to end the game.
“Coach (Jackie) Montanez left the program and we just had to keep it going,” Madrid said. “We’re going to keep this thing going and it’s a tribute to coach (Amber) Ackerman and coach Montanez.”