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CIF-SS DIVISION 7 SOFTBALL QUARTERFINALS : Westridge Coach Intentionally Walks Whitney’s Top Hitter Genera Three Times, Edges Lady Wildcats for Win

Westridge Coach Karen Hanselman denies star player an at bat in her last high school game.

 

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

PASADENA-When you have only one player that has batted over .300 all season, an opposing pitcher will do whatever it takes to slow that player down. Whitney High pitcher Taylor Genera found out the hard way in what would be her final high school game.

The senior, who will be attending Chaminade University in a few months, was intentionally walked all three times she came up to the plate.

Whitney High senior pitcher Taylor Genera is all smiles as she approached home plate in the top of the sixth inning against Westridge High in last Thursday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 7 quarterfinal game. Genera scored from second play following a throwing error. However, the Lady Wildcats fell to the Tigers 2-1. Genera led Whitney with a .481 batting average and 38 hits. She also got the decision in all 24 games, striking out 250 batters. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.

 

Without her hitting, the Lady Wildcats were handcuffed by the pitching of Westridge High’s Hailey Yoshida as the Tigers rallied for a 2-1 win in last Thursday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 7 quarterfinals.

Whitney, the third place team out of the 605 League and ranked second in the division, ends its season at 15-9.

“I don’t like it,” said Whitney head coach Luis Lavayen. “I don’t think it’s fair. We’re here to play ball, so let them play. But you have to do whatever you can to win a game. As you can see, we didn’t [intentionally] walk anybody; we let them hit. Even though you lose, you have to let them hit.”

“Obviously I was mad that they were taking away that opportunity for me to help my team out,” Genera said. “But from the beginning of the game when [Westridge head coach Karen Hanselman] said she had already looked through my stats and she knew who I was, I knew they weren’t going to be very fair with me. After the first and second times they put me on base, I was already [thinking] this was going to be the rest of the game if I ever do come back up.”

Hanselman, who admitted she had never seen Genera play before, said that their catcher, Deijah Bradley, has played with Genera and knows her strengths as a pitcher. Hanselman also said that “initially we were going to let her hit once and we just decided we didn’t even want to toy with that because, again that’s a player that deserves a lot of respect. And, if that’s part of the game, strategy, we’ll use it.”

Both pitchers were completely stellar through the first five innings with no balls leaving the infield. Yoshida would intentionally walk Genera to lead off the top of the sixth inning and after a strikeout, a sacrifice from senior catcher Hailey Acosta advanced Genera. However, when she rounded second, she noticed no one was covering third and headed towards third where an errant throw allowed Genera to break the scoreless tie. Genera would be one of four players for Whitney to reach base. However, the other three never got past second base.

“I was already thinking I had third base if I didn’t stop,” Genera said. “When they made the throw, I just took that as the opportunity to get that run.”

“Her baserunning IQ is phenomenal and again, we just have nothing but respect for her” Hanselman said. “At that point, I did second guess myself for a minute thinking we should test her. But I stand by the decision and again, she’s a smart baserunner and she did test us. Obviously, she came around with the first run, so we had to regroup and dig in.”

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Genera hit Julia Valenzuela on the third pitch, then served up a triple to Yoshida down the third base line on a full count. Olivia Bulow then reached on an error with Yoshida coming home.

“All it takes is one mistake,” Lavayen said. “That was a clean hit, so you have to give it to them.”

Whereas Whitney has been led all season by pretty much one hitting threat, the Tigers had three in Bradley, Valenzuela and Yoshida, all of whom had combined for 51 hits, 54 runs and 42 runs batted in. As a team, Westridge had 92 hits, scored 110 runs and drove in 74 runs while batting .219. So, both pitchers were locked in throughout the early part of the game. Yoshida walked Genera and freshmen Keilani Alejandro before striking out Acosta. In the top of the third, Yoshida walked sophomore left fielder Lois Kim to lead off the inning and Genera after a pair of strikeouts. Two innings later, junior second baseman Susana Toscano reached on an error with two outs.

“I didn’t think we were going to last that long because I know our team has a hard time hitting off faster pitchers,” Genera said. “So, holding them for that long, I was really confident after we had scored that one run.”

Meanwhile, Genera had walked three batters through the first five innings and allowed an infield single to Mina Alvarado-Goldberg to begin the bottom of the third inning and another infield knock to Sonaya Vasquez-Wright the next inning in which the ball tipped off Genera’s glove.

“Holy mackerel,” Hanselman said. “We cranked up our pitching machine yesterday just to try to get a piece of it because that’s the kind of pitching we’re used to. We have one pitcher, so we’re not able to have live pitching in practice most of the time. Taylor is an amazing pitcher and we went in with respect, but most of our players are so new to this sport they didn’t know to be afraid. So, they stood up there with poise and maturity that is unheard of for that young a team. I congratulate Whitney.”

“Our girls feel intimidated half the time when they see somebody good,” Lavayen said. “I told them to just be loose; just play ball and have fun with it.”

The game marked just the third one in 28 Division 7 playoff games in which it was decided by a run. The first round saw 11 games decided by 10 or more runs and three more in the second round. The Lady Wildcats, who won four games last season, have not been to the quarterfinals since 2000 and since 1998, have had only nine seasons of at least 10 victories. The 15 games won in 2019 were the most since 2012 and tied for third most since 1998.

“I had a good time with them,” Lavayen said. “I didn’t expect to get this far, but we did. I don’t know what it’s going to look like next year.”

“Even starting from the beginning of the season, I could see that the girls were just different from the last two seasons we had because in my freshman year, we did really good but lost in the first round,” Genera said. “The next two years I knew we lost people and it wasn’t looking too good. This year, some girls came [to the team] and they weren’t afraid to swing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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