The Westridge varsity softball team entered Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine last Friday having already made history. The squad earned a spot in the CIF Southern Section Division 7 championship game, a feat no other has accomplished in the program’s history.
Unfortunately, the Tigers were unable to control the nerves that came with playing on a big stage, and Upland Western Christian took advantage of Westridge’s mistakes to claim the CIF championship with a 3-0 victory.
The Tigers (13-8 overall record) committed eight errors in the game, which allowed the Fighting Lancers (22-7 overall) to score unearned runs in the second, third and fifth innings.
“That happens to be our M.O. from the beginning of the season,” said Westridge head coach Karen Hanselman. “Once one error happens, it’s contagious and it starts to domino. … In the heat of the moment, younger players don’t always have that wherewithal.”
Despite the shaky defense, freshman ace Hailey Yoshida struck out five and allowed only three hits to keep her team within reach of Western Christian.
“She is one of the most amazing young ladies I’ve ever met,” Hanselman said. “She has so much talent and poise and maturity. She’s only a freshman. … She’s got nerves of steel. Together with her and Deijah behind the plate is just a work of art.”
The Tigers struggled to get anything going against Western Christian ace Amelia Weber despite outhitting the opposition, 4-3. Westridge had an opportunity in the bottom of the third when Molly Morgan and Yoshida had consecutive hits to have runners on second and third. Weber got out of the jam with a strikeout.
Hanselman credited the Weber’s performance for Westridge’s struggles on offense but also said her players weren’t patient in the batter’s box.
“We tend to get it done in one giant swing instead of chipping away,” Hanselman said. “Our good hitters can do that on a good day. … Their pitcher is really amazing, and her changeup that everybody swings at before reaching the plate [is something] I’ve never seen another pitcher have.”
Despite the tough loss, the Tigers have a bright future with only two seniors on the roster. Hanselman hopes the players remember everything that led them to the championship game.
“What I’d like for them to take away is not the final moments and the sadness of losing the game but the journey that brought us here in the first place,” Hanselman said. “I will take responsibility for maybe not mentally preparing them for this whole circumstance and giving them a case of the jitters.”
Yoshida echoed her coach’s sentiments and said, “This is a huge motivation for next year. It just motivates me to get better.”
Mayfield Senior 4
In a CIF-SS Division 7 semifinal battle between Prep League rivals, it was the Westridge Tigers who came out on top, edging host Mayfield Senior, 6-4, at Brookside Park last week.
Trailing 6-0, the Cubs (13-9 overall) rallied in the bottom of the seventh and plated four runs. Maddie Biscaichipy and Jaylin Dominguez each drove in one run but it wasn’t enough as Hailey Yoshida held Mayfield at bay to pick up the win.
Yoshida allowed four unearned runs on four hits, walked two and struck out 12 in a complete game. She also helped her own cause with a double and two runs batted in.
Julia Valenzuela also doubled and drove in two runs, Molly Morgan was 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI, Deijah Bradley was 1-for-3 with two runs and one RBI, Mina Alvarado-Goldberg scored one run and Sonaya Vasquez-Wright singled.
Head coach Katie Clancy guided the Cubs to a stellar season and a second-place finish in the Prep League standings. Mayfield defeated Wildomar California Lutheran, Beverly Hills and Academy for Academic Excellence of Apple Valley in the playoffs.