SANTA MONICA – The Loara Saxons of Anaheim needed all seven innings to get enough insurance to knock off the SaMoHi Lady Vikings 6-1 of the CIF Softball Tournament on Thursday.
Junior Kelly Ricard drove in SaMo’s leading run with a base hit early, and the Vikings kept the game 1-0 all the way to the fifth inning.
But in the top of the fifth inning senior Natalie Abel seemed to be unable to find the plate. Abel walked two batters and gave up a sacrifice bunt before Coach Marybell Moreno brought in sophomore Sara Garcia in relief. Garcia got the first out of the inning, but the Saxons loaded the bases after that. Loara then got three consecutive hits to bring home three runs.
“I felt we needed a change so I brought in Sarah [Garcia], but they were a good hitting team and it just didn’t work out”, Coach Moreno said.
Up until that fifth inning Abel was pitching a gem of a game, giving up just three hits, striking out two and walking one in four innings of work. She finished the game with a total of four strikeouts. Also noteworthy is the fact she had allowed only two balls hit out of the infield and one of them was for an out.
But sophomore pitcher Bethann McCann was even more impressive for the Saxons. She pitched a complete game, striking out seven Viking hitters, allowing only three hits, two walks and just one run to earn the win. McCann also had a big hit to drive in two of the three runs that came home in the seventh inning and helped to seal the game.
“We left too many runners on base,” Coach Moreno said. “We had six runners in scoring position and couldn’t get them home. We just weren’t prepared to hit the close pitches that were called for strikes and our lack of hitting hurt us today.”
Though being eliminated in the first game of the playoffs was a disappointment for the Lady Vikings, many believed SaMoHi wouldn’t do as well as they did. This season was supposed to be a rebuilding year after the Lady Vikings lost their entire starting team from CIF Champion 2010 team. Instead they went 10-0 in league play and 13-1 overall in 2011.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Moreno said. “They really came together as a team at the end and I expect us to be that much better next year.”