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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW : VASQUEZ PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME, STYMIES ALTA LOMA TO PUT NORWALK IN QUARTERFINALS 

BY LOREN KOPFF

The illustrious high school career of Norwalk High senior pitcher Breanna Vasquez is reaching its final days. Touted by many of her peers as one of the best, if not the best pitcher in the Suburban League the past four seasons, Vasquez put together a performance that has been so familiar since she was a freshman.

Vasquez allowed only a double to Alta Loma High’s Savana Sanders in the top of the fifth inning of this past Tuesday’s California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 4 second round game and the host Lady Lancers scratched together a run in the bottom of the second for a 1-0 win.

But there was much more to the University of Central Florida’s success against the Braves as she struck out the first 12 batters she faced (17 for the game) and yielded only one other baserunner. Despite the staggering numbers, it’s still not the best that first-year head coach David Gonzalez has seen out of her.

“No, because the last two games she’s done pretty much the same thing,” Gonzalez said. “She’s been dominant; we’re still working on getting her stamina back to where it needs to be. If you go back a month and a half, she wasn’t able to finish these games. Now she’s able to finish these games, and she’s going to continue to get more dangerous for these teams.”

And to think that Vasquez began the season un-Vasquez-like as she was hampered with an elbow injury. The coaching staff had to make sure she didn’t get worse while not sacrificing a lot of wins. Gonzalez said the biggest part was finding the balance between getting her some innings so that the team stays in games and not making the situation worse. Over the past six games, Vasquez has struck out 83 batters while allowing just four runs.

Vasquez, who has worked into the seventh inning only half a dozen times this season, reached a full count to five of the first 12 batters she faced. With one out in the fifth, and on a 2-0 count, Sanders punched her double to the right field gap. After a sacrifice from Erica Soliz, Vasquez struck out Emily Spain to preserve the lead.

“She gets better the more pressure on,” Gonzalez said. “When she starts getting deep in counts…it’s just her finding her way. She hasn’t pitched a lot of innings this year. So, she’s still working on a few kinks. But she loves the pressure.

After a perfect sixth inning, Vasquez began the seventh by striking out Kylie Galindo before walking Keahiele Mattson. On the next two pitches, Mattson stole second and third before she was held there as Alyssa Huerta tried to bunt her in for the tying score. Vasquez then faced Sanders and worked her to a full count before striking her out to end the contest.

“The most impressive thing with Breanna has been no moment is too big for her,” Gonzalez said. “It doesn’t matter what game or who we’re playing. Without sounding arrogant on her part because she’s not an arrogant kid at all, but I think she understands that most days, she’s the best player on the field.”

Freshman catcher Steph Perez, who had a pair of hits, began the bottom of the second with a base hit into left field. Following a sacrifice from senior center fielder Valerie Zavala and a pop-up by sophomore first baseman Destanie Cervantes, Perez came home on a base hit to right field from sophomore second baseman Angelina Perez. Norwalk would get three more hits the remainder of the game and no one past second base.

The Lady Lancers, who finished in fourth place in the league and had to play a wild card playoff game on the road, then defeated 10th ranked and Sunbelt League champion Temescal Canyon High on the road, are on their best run of the season, winning six straight games as they visited Sonora High on May 24 in the quarterfinals. It’s the second time in school history the program has been this deep in the playoffs with the other time coming two seasons ago. In fact, the beginning of the winning streak was a game the Lady Lancers needed to get into the playoffs, a 3-0 win against Mayfair High on May 1.

“It felt really good and it was only a matter of time before this happened,” Gonzalez said of the winning streak. “We just hoped we didn’t run out of time to get to this point.”

In other softball action, Gahr High, which earned a first round bye in Division 1, edged Oaks Christian High 4-3 this past Tuesday in a second round game. The Lady Gladiators, ranked sixth in the division, improved to 22-5 and hosted third ranked Mater Dei High on May 24. 

BASEBALL

John Glenn High’s season came to an end with a 4-1 loss to Windward High in the Division 4 second round playoffs. The Eagles, who finished in second place in the Suburban League and were ranked fourth in the division, conclude the season at 20-9. It’s the best season any Glenn baseball team has had in over 20 seasons.

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