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Hot hitting Gahr dominated by Los Alamitos’ Denhart’s display in the circle

By Loren Kopff

LOS ALAMITOS-Gahr’s softball team, fresh off a solid performance in the 20th Annual Dave Kops Tournament of Champions 10 days ago in which it went 4-2 and beat some of the best teams in the country, ran into a buzz saw named Ryan Denhart. The Los Alamitos sophomore struck out 10 batters and limited a hot-hitting Gladiator team to just five hits in a 5-0 win this past Tuesday.

Denhart, who had at least one strikeout in every inning before being replaced after facing one batter in the top of the seventh, struck out two batters from the second inning through the fifth and allowed just two runners to reach third base.

“I think it all boils down to we didn’t hit that girl,” said Gahr head coach Shawn Quarles. “Ryan had our number. She beat us by herself; we didn’t score. We just didn’t hit well. We hit [in practice] almost every day since we played last. I’m not going to blame it on 10 days off.”

Gahr’s first base runner came with two outs in the second when senior designated player Destiny Vasquez doubled to the right field gap. But Denhart avoided further damage with her third strikeout to that point.

The Griffins got on the board in the bottom of the third when Ariana Belarde and Cami Sellers each had run-scoring doubles. Despite the two runs, Gahr sophomore pitcher Naomi Dickerson pitched well enough to win. Coming off a three-hitter against Villa Park on Mar. 14, Dickerson pitched five innings against Los Alamitos, scattering four hits and walking two. She even got some defensive help when junior center fielder Alyssa Cuffia threw out Taylor Covington for the final out of the fourth inning. Covington had reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and moved to third on an error

“I thought Naomi did a great job,” Quarles said. “I thought she missed her spots one or two times when they scored. But I think Naomi has found her style of pitching and I think she’s going to be very effective.”

But the story of the game was Denhart and Gahr’s inability to come up with the timely hits. The Gladiators (10-5) had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth but Denhart ended that threat with a strikeout and a force out. Two innings later, Denhart walked sophomore catcher Alyssa Kumiyama with one out and after another strikeout, hit Vasquez and freshman pinch hitter Jade Wittman to load the bases. But Denhart got senior left fielder Sabrina Quarles to fly out to right field to end the frame.

“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” Shawn Quarles said. “We didn’t have timely hitting. We had some very bad at-bats, at-bats that just looked silly.

“It’s a little frustrating because I know we can play better than that,” he later added. “Los Al is a great team. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great team and if you let them beat you, they’re going to beat you. But we’re right there with them. We should be able to hit their pitchers. That’s just on us. But today they were absolutely the best team. We weren’t even in their league today. It could have been even uglier than that.”

Vasquez went two for two while three other players all collected one hit. Gahr will now be off for three weeks and will not return to action until Apr. 14 when it visits San Gabriel Valley League rival Warren, the team it shared last season’s league crown with.

“I guess if we lose, we’ll blame it on the guy who made the schedule,” Shawn Quarles chuckled. “But we’ll see how that affects us. We have a busy schedule. The way that Spring Break came…it kind of made the schedule act a little funny.”