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SUBURBAN LEAGUE SOFTBALL Norwalk wakes up late with one big inning, sweeps season series with John Glenn

By Loren Kopff

Norwalk was three outs away from losing to city rival John Glenn for the first time in 19 games. But the visiting Lady Lancers took advantage of a tiring freshman pitcher by sending 15 batters to the plate in the top of seventh and scoring 11 runs in a 16-10 victory.

The 26 runs are the most in this rivalry since Glenn’s last win over Norwalk (14-7) on Apr. 23, 2004. The Lady Eagles have been involved in the three highest scoring Suburban League games, all coming in the last three seasons. Last season, Cerritos beat Glenn 13-11 and the year prior, Mayfair slammed Glenn 25-3.

Glenn freshman Ashley Armas had thrown 100 pitches through six innings but the first nine batters in the top of the seventh saw a combined 13 pitches and the onslaught began when senior left fielder Jennifer Vasquez reached on an error.

“I think the kids believed in themselves,” said Norwalk head coach Tony Aguirre. “They said, ‘we have a chance’. We were chasing five runs with three outs and we told the kids it was one batter at a time. Once one hit, then the next one hit and it just got contagious all the way around the lineup.”

After an out the next five batters all had singles before junior shortstop Jazmin Guzman’s base hit brought in a pair to make it 11-10. Later in the inning and with two outs, senior pinch hitter Erica Perez had a bases-loaded triple down the left field line to put the game out of reach. Perez was one of three batters to have two hits in the inning. All three of those hitters were the bottom three in the lineup.

“She just bombed that thing,” Aguirre said. “She laid right in that thing and it was gone. She came off the bench and produced.”

“Their bottom [part] of the lineup was making hits that they shouldn’t be hitting,” said Glenn head coach Albert Enriquez. “We focused on [their] one, three and five. That’s all they had. They had Jazmin, Jenny and [senior designated player] Sammy [Lujan].”

Norwalk (3-10 overall, 2-2 in league) scored three runs in the top of the first but the Lady Eagles, minus sophomore pitcher Destiny Enriquez who has a fractured bone on the left side of her left foot, bounced back with five runs in the bottom of the second. Glenn batted around and got key two-out doubles from Armas and junior second baseman Jackie Mojica. The hosts would add one more run in the next inning before Norwalk crept back with single tallies in the fourth and fifth innings.

But Glenn seemingly thought it had wrapped up the game with four runs in the bottom of the fifth, again batting around. The big blow was a bases-loaded, two-out double from Armas, who went three for five.  Three of those four runs came off of freshman Sam Navarette, the third Norwalk pitcher used through the first five innings. Senior Amanda Benes, who started but didn’t last two innings, was brought back in to finish the game. Sophomore Serena Nicolas pitched two and a third innings before Aguirre replaced her with Navarette.

“We need to work on pitching a little more,” Aguirre said. “Our pitchers aren’t hitting their spots that we need them to hit. That’s another thing that’s hurting us.”

Mojica and senior shortstop Valeria Ortega each went two for four and drove in a pair of runs as the Lady Eagles, who bounced back to slam Artesia 12-1 this past Wednesday, are now 6-8 overall, 1-2 in league. Albert Enriquez had high hopes for his team this season and thought his team could make a serious run at a playoff spot. But with his daughter sidelined for the rest of the season, he now has to alter his defensive lineup.

“We didn’t expect losing our No. 1 [pitcher],” he said. “We have our catcher playing third base. I honestly believe with Destiny here…we do have a better chance. [Our] team can hit.

“Offensively [we] came in and did what we’ve been doing all season long,” he added. “If we played like this [on Wednesday], we beat them on Wednesday also. It’s the nature of the beast.”

Glenn pounded out a season-high 18 hits as six players had at least two hits. Junior right fielder Paola Martinez went three for five while Benes went two for two as Norwalk’s record is somewhat puzzling to Aguirre. Of the 52 runs Norwalk has scored this season, 25 have come either in the sixth or seventh innings.

On Mar. 26, Norwalk was trailing Mayfair 9-1 entering the bottom of the fourth before scoring four runs, then another three in the sixth before losing 10-9. Two days later, Norwalk saw Mayfair build a 10-3 lead heading into the seventh before the Lady Lancers scored three runs.

“I would say it’s misleading because we’ve had opportunities in games to win and we keep doing this last minute thing, scoring five or six or seven runs at the end when we should be taking care of it earlier,” Aguirre said of his team’s record. “But in the last three or four games, we keep coming from behind.

“I think we can build off of this because the girls know they believe in themselves and they can score when we have to,” Aguirre continued. “But we shouldn’t get that far in the hole. We have to take from here and go forward.”

Glenn will host Artesia today, then face La Mirada next week while Norwalk travels to Bellflower today before playing Artesia next week.