CIFSS Weekend Softball Highlights

Two of the stars of the day for Grand Terrace when it won its CIFSS title by outlasting Redondo were Melanie Olmos and Danielle Rico. Photo: Harold Abend.

Two of the stars of the day for Grand Terrace when it won its CIFSS title by outlasting Redondo were Melanie Olmos and Danielle Rico. Photo: Harold Abend.

Before Mater Dei ended a long weekend of softball section finals that almost all had mythical state divisional title implications with its win over Orange Lutheran, winners were led by Mission Viejo (D2) and Grand Terrace (D3) on Friday. Others gaining championships were North Torrance (D4), Lompoc (D5), Paraclete (D6) and Rolling Hills Prep (D7).

For more on Mater Dei’s win in the D1 final over Orange Lutheran, CLICK HERE.

(Note: Cal-Hi Sports editor Mark Tennis also wrote up segments of these highlights.)

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Heading into the weekend of CIF Southern Section softball championships played at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine, both of the Division II finalists, Mission Viejo and Valley View of Moreno Valley, were ranked higher in the state than eventual Division I champion Mater Dei of Santa Ana.

Those two met on Friday night and Mission Viejo (27-4) overcame deficits of 4-0 in the first inning and 5-4 in the third to win its second CIF Southern Section Division II title in three years with a 9-6 victory over Valley View.

With the win, the Diablos finished the season on an eight-game winning streak and topped a Valley View team that had gotten past La Habra in the semifinals. Not only did Mission Viejo go 1-1 against Mater Dei (winning the second time), but La Habra was another team that got a win over the Monarchs.

The win also eased the pain of a Mission Viejo team that came into this very game last season with a 30-0 record and a possible No. 1 national ranking only to lose a 1-0 gut-wrencher to Yucaipa.

Mission Viejo players get in dogpile mode after they won CIFSS Division II title on Friday over Valley View. Photo: Harold Abend.

Mission Viejo players get in dogpile mode after they won CIFSS D2 title over Valley View. Photo: Harold Abend.

It didn’t look good to start for the girls from Southern Orange County after Louisville-bound pitcher Kyra Snyder got touched up for four runs in the top of the first inning by the Inland Empire girls. Although the senior did give up two solo home runs in the second and fifth innings of what turned out to be a slugfest, she pretty much knuckled down after that first inning, and on this evening it was her teammates in the end that were swinging the bigger bats.

“After that first inning I was like, ‘I don’t want to feel this way again,’” said Snyder in reference to the loss last season. “But my team picked me up beyond belief like they have the entire season. We all hit, we all wanted it bad, and I just believed in the team and they believed in me.”

After Valley View sent 10 batters to the plate and pushed across four unearned runs in the top of the first, Snyder got the final out on a pop to short and left three Eagles; runners stranded.

The Diablos scored four unearned runs of their own in the bottom of the inning with Snyder right in the middle of the somewhat unorthodox rally. With two out and Olivia Viggiano on first after reaching on an error, Snyder took one for the team and moved Viggiano to second after getting hit by a pitch. Princeton-bound Allison Harvey singled to load the bases and up stepped Illinois-committed Bella Loya. She doubled to clear the bases and Bowling Green-commit Samantha Dees followed with an RBI single that plated Loya and tied it at 4-4.

Despite the counterpunch, Valley View (27-2) refused to go away as Army-bound Katie Ontiveros launched a solo home run in the top of the second to go with her RBI single and run scored in the first inning, and the Eagles re-took the lead at 5-4.

Mission Viejo took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the third when Dees came through with an RBI double and St. John’s-commit Peyton Cody added an RBI single to make it 6-5. Arizona State-committed sophomore catcher Terra McGowan’s 250-foot solo blast to left field made it 7-5 in the bottom of the fourth.

Valley View, which was No. 12 in the state last week by Cal-Hi Sports but essentially was much higher after its semifinal win over the No. 3 Highlanders, closed to 7-6 in the top of the fifth on the third home run of the night, a solo round-tripper by Fresno State-bound Schuyler Broussard.

Once again, Mission Viejo answered right back with a run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Cody that drove in Loya, and the Diablos closed out the scoring with a run in the sixth on a single by Harvey that plated McGowan.

Mission Viejo head coach Troy Ybarra, who was hospitalized for two days earlier in the week after suffering with vertigo, echoed his ace in the circle with respect to the team’s effort, and had high praise for her gutsy performance.

“Kyra working out of that first inning jam was key, and then us getting the four runs right back was huge because then they knew they can hit this pitcher (St. Mary’s-bound Eileen Perez).”

“The girls didn’t get down at all, nothing bothered them, and nothing rattled them. It was a total team effort,” continued Ybarra. “They all brought it today, and Kyra? She didn’t get rattled at all.”

The only team Mission didn’t also beat in its tough 31-game schedule was Orange Lutheran (the D1 finalist), which could be a key factor in the squad’s final state ranking (to be announced Monday).

Grand Terrace makes its
own statement in wild finish

Some other rankings have Grand Terrace as high as No. 2 in the nation but after a wild finish in Friday’s 5-2 victory over Redondo Union-Redondo Beach in the CIF Southern Section Division III title game, where the Cal-Hi Sports No. 4 ranked team finishes in all of the final rankings was still up in the air.

It was the first CIFSS softball title for top-seeded Grand Terrace (28-1) and the second title for the school this year and in school history, joining the girls’ soccer team. A year ago, Grand Terrace lost a 5-4 heartbreaker in the CIFSS D3 title game after allowing two runs in the seventh inning.

Oklahoma-bound Eliyah Flores will be one of several top players returning next season for Grand Terrace. Photo:

Oklahoma-bound Eliyah Flores will be one of several top players returning next season for Grand Terrace. Photo:

Some have argued that Grand Terrace did not play a very difficult schedule and its lone loss was to Great Oak-Temecula. Others who’ve watched the team play earlier in the season just believe it’s a more talented lineup than many other top CIFSS D1 and D2 teams.

Be as it may, what will be certain heading into Monday’s final top 10 state team rankings (expanded Top 30 or 35 overall will be later next week) is that the Titans will be the top team from the powerful Inland Empire and that they had breezed through the playoffs.

Until Redondo Union put two runs on the board, the Titan girls had outscored four previous playoff opponents 32-0.

Still, if not for a bizarre play that ended the game, Grand Terrace could have given up more runs or even lost the game.

Grand Terrace led 5-1 entering the seventh inning, but closing out the win was anything but easy. A hit batter, two errors, a fielder’s choice, a passed ball and a walk made it 5-2 and left the bases loaded with one out.

Redondo’s Sam Pech then hit a sinking line drive that Titans’ center fielder Marissa Jauregui dove for, but did not catch. She did, however, corral the ball and got a force at second. Meanwhile, Redondo’s Imani Moore, who was on third base, apparently thought the ball was caught and stopped inches short of home, instead running back toward third. Had she touched home plate, unseeded Redondo (23-10) would have still been alive with at least another run home.

Kat Ung, who was on second, saw the play clearly and kept running. Moore, who was running back to third, passed her on the basepath. After a lengthy umpires’ conference with both coaches, it was decided that Ung was out, and the game was over. Had Moore not run back to third, it likely would have been 5-4, with two outs and the tying run at first base. Instead, with the crowd and even some on press row a bit confused, Grand Terrace began its celebration.

“We don’t take anyone lightly,” said Grand Terrace pitcher Melanie Olmos. “Redondo is a good team and that’s why they got here. They got some hits off me but my defense had my back.”

The Oklahoma-bound senior gave up the two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts, three walks and two hit batters.

After two scoreless innings, Grand Terrace jumped in front 3-0 after Morgan Parsons singled in Lily Bishop and Eastern Michigan-bound Danielle Rico hit a two-run home run.

It was the second-straight year Rico hit one out at Barber Park’s Deanna Manning Stadium. Last year, her home run was in vain.

“Last year the home run felt good, but this year it felt great because we won,” Rico said.

Despite the heroics and the odd play that ended the game, Grand Terrace head coach Bobby Flores was feeling good about his girls.

“I can’t lie. I was a little concerned,” Flores remarked. “Last year fueled us to get back to this point, and I just felt something about this team this year, with the experience and maturity they would find a way to pull through.”

Paraclete repeats in D6
and finishes unbeaten

In a repeat of last year’s CIF Southern Section Division VI title game, it was a repeat for Paraclete of Lancaster after an 8-4 victory on Saturday gave the girls from the Antelope Valley title-game victories over Savanna-Anaheim for the second straight season.

The victory also culminated a 28-0 season for Paraclete and was career win No. 726 for longtime Spirits’ head coach Margaret Neil. That ties the 2015 Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year with Joe Given of Notre Dame-Salinas for fourth all-time among California softball coaches, according to the Cal-Hi Sports record book files.

Taylor Roberts of Lancaster Paraclete gets mobbed at home plate after go-ahead homer in CIFSS D6 final. Photo: Patrick Takkinen/

Taylor Roberts of Lancaster Paraclete gets mobbed at home plate after go-ahead homer in CIFSS D6 final. Photo: Patrick Takkinen/

“It is definitely sweet to get two in a row because it was a long time coming. I guess I just waited until its feels better,” said Neil, who in 35 years at the Paraclete helm had lost seven CIFSS title games before last year’s win.

Savanna (30-3-1) struck first with a single run in the bottom of the first inning but Paraclete got three runs in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead.

The local Orange County girls would not go away. They got one back in the bottom of the third to close to 3-2 and after Paraclete got one in the fourth Savanna tied it at 4-4 in the sixth with the tying run coming on an RBI single by Shyanne Fennell.

The game’s big hit and the one that decided things came off the bat of Taylor Roberts. After back-to-back walks to Kaytlynn Johnson and Samantha Arriola, the Adams State-bound senior got a hold of one and hit a frozen rope that looked like it had been shot out of a cannon. Almost as fast as the blink of an eye. it disappeared over the left centerfield fence after clearing it by only a few inches.

Myamie Thompson followed with a single and Rylee Maston doubled her home for the game’s final tally.

“When I hit it, I really didn’t look at it because I don’t usually look at my hits but the way the crowd reacted I started crying going around the bases because I knew it was gone,” Roberts said.

Roberts then came on to close it out and get the save in the circle for starting pitcher and Central Arkansas-bound Kailla Searcy.

“I was just praying it would clear the fence. Please get over was all I could think,” Neil said about the winning home run

One of the big questions in the final Cal-Hi Sports state rankings is where does Paraclete fit. There’s obviously a huge difference between D6 and D1 and D2, but 28-0 also is 28-0. The Spirits for sure will be No. 1 in the final Division IV state rankings, but sneaking into the final Top 20 or Top 30 overall may be a different story.

D4: Battle of Torrance
Won By Saxons

The kickoff game for Saturday’s schedule at the CIFSS softball playoffs at Bill Barber Park went pretty much as expected with Cal-Hi Sports bubble team North Torrance beating cross-town rival Torrance 5-0 with the only bit of a surprise was that neither team scored through the first three innings.

North Torrance (28-6-1, also ranked No. 2 in the D3 state rankings behind Grand Terrace) scored one in the fourth and four in the fifth and after getting out of a couple of early jams Arizona State-bound senior pitcher Alyssa Loza dominated in the circle after tossing a three-hitter with five walks and four strikeouts.

The big hit for North Torrance was a three-run home run in the fifth by senior Shonnie Baker.

Look for details soon on exciting, new way for every stat star, player of the week and all-state player to be able to order their own highlight video.

Look for details soon on exciting, new way for every stat star, player of the week and all-state player to be able to order their own highlight video.

D5: Lompoc wins one
for the Central Coast

If anybody knows much about CIFSS softball history, there have been some great teams from the region of the section that we sometimes call “the black hole” because it tends to be easy to overlook players and teams from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Most of that history surrounds title teams that have come from Righetti of Santa Maria and Dos Pueblos of Goleta, but Lompoc High actually can claim the 1976 Ms. Softball Player of the Year in pitcher Jan Jeffers.

Lompoc can now claim its first CIFSS title too after the Braves blanked Louisville of Woodland Hills 3-0 on Saturday. They beat top-seeded St. Bonaventure of Ventura in the semifinals and blanked second-seed Louisville for the title.

Pitching the shutout for Lompoc (23-7) was Olivia Gutierrez, who finished with a four hitter and struck out five. Rylee Sager was the team’s other standout. She ripped a solo homer in the fifth inning for a 2-0 lead, then in the seventh stole third and came home on an overthrow by the catcher for the team’s third run.

D6: Rolling Hills Prep did
indeed roll to a title

In the 2 p.m. kickoff game on Friday afternoon, Rolling Hills Prep of San Pedro (20-3-1) got two runs in the first and second innings and one in the third to put it away early before posting a three-spot in the sixth of an 8-2 victory against Faith Baptist of Canoga Park.

Senior Kaitlin Buff got the win after going 5 1/3 innings and giving up six hits and one earned run with seven strikeouts. College of Charleston-bound senior Isabel Berouty got the save and also was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI at the plate.

Head coach Ben Pasco’s team also wrapped up a mythical Division V state crown. Had the Huskies lost, No. 2 Mariposa County of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section was poised to move up for the final rankings.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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