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Errors keep piling up for Gahr in second straight league loss

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY LEAGUE SOFTBALL

By Loren Kopff

DOWNEY – Déjà vu hit the Gahr softball team for the second time in 48 hours and as a result, it sent the Gladiators to their second straight San Gabriel Valley League setback.  Two days after Gahr committed five errors against Paramount which led to seven unearned runs, the team added seven more errors to its season total in a 10-4 loss to host Downey last Thursday.

Of those 10 runs, four were earned as Gahr stumbled to 0-2 in league action, the first time that has happened since 2004. Through the first 18 games this season, Gahr has committed 40 errors. Last season, the team had 51 miscues in a 25-game season.

The recent defensive blunders have left Gahr first-year head coach Shawn Quarles to possibly change the focus of the practices. Known primarily as a hitting coach, Quarles is finding himself spending the majority of his practices working on the defense.

“Sometimes that’s where your team is at,” Quarles said. “We do a lot of drills and we get a lot of reps in. We just have to work on not having them create those errors during the games.

“The errors that we’re making are pretty routine,” Quarles later added. “It’s not anything that an extra groundball is going to do. It’s all mental preparation for the game.”

Downey scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Vikings loaded the bases off of junior pitcher Mel Varela but she got a key second out when Rachel Rodriguez was forced at home on a fielder’s choice. The inning would have been over when Bernie Juarez hit into a potential fielder’s choice, but the first of the seven errors allowed Cassie Grana to be safe at second and allowed Anissa Urtez and Ale Guillen to score.

In the second inning, the Vikings scored three times, two of which were unearned and added two more unearned runs in the fourth to build a 7-0 lead. Meanwhile, Gahr’s explosive offense was being held in check by Guillen, getting just three hits and five base runners through the first four innings. But as was the case against Paramount, the Gladiators refused to go away and finally put some runs on the board.

With two outs in the top of the fifth, sophomore third baseman Celeste Gonzalez doubled to center, bringing home freshman left fielder Alyssa Rodriguez and sophomore shortstop Deja Portillo. Gonzalez would later score on Downey’s lone error.

After the Vikings, who fell to Warren by a run in their league opener, countered with three runs in the sixth, Gahr closed out the scoring in the final inning when Gonzalez knocked in Rodriguez with a two-out base hit.

“I don’t think we were lucky,” said Downey head coach Micah Karzen. “We hit a lot of balls hard. They threw a couple of balls away but we hit a lot of balls hard. And, we were doing some things with our pitching today; experimenting with some things and throwing some pitches we might normally not have had the team been of higher caliber players.”

Gonzalez, who was sporting a team-leading .531 batting average after the game, went two for four while five other players all had a hit. Varela, in her second straight start coming back from an injury, yielded 10 hits, walked three and struck out two. Of her eight starts, she has given up 21 unearned runs. Gahr (8-11 overall) hosted Dominguez this past Tuesday and blasted the Dons 22-0 behind a perfect game from sophomore Deidra Genera. It was Gahr’s first perfect game since Marissa Frese did the same number on Dominguez back on Apr. 14, 2011 in a 21-0 triumph. Portillo went three for four and drove in four runs while seven other players had two hits as part of the 19-hit assault. Genera also helped her cause with a two-run home run in a 10-run third inning. Gahr hosted Lynwood on Apr. 18 and will close out the first round of league action on Tuesday at Warren. Gahr’s playoff chances will most likely be on the line when the team travels to Paramount on Thursday.

“I think it’s early to tell but we’re definitely shooting for the playoffs,” Quarles said. “Nothing that I’ve seen has shown me that we can’t compete for a playoff spot. I still have faith in my girls. I still have confidence that we can put it together when it’s time and hopefully come up with that spot. We still have a way to go before we become one of the dominant forces in this league. It’s going to take more than a couple of months.”

“They look like a better team this year,” Karzen said. “They look more mature, and obviously they have to be. They were all freshmen [and sophomores] last year. They are improving and they could give us trouble down the line considering my number one pitcher is leaving next year. [Gahr] is somebody to think about for the next two years because they have that young core of pretty good players.”

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