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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Morinishi, Crockett-Pope lift Cerritos softball to resounding victory

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


Although the season is just six games young, the Cerritos High softball team has been on somewhat of a roller coaster ride. The defending Suburban League champions have been blown out twice, lost a lead in the final innings that could have been two wins and have easily defeated two other foes.

One of those was against Northview High as sophomore pitcher Jennifer Morinishi took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before yielding a first pitch, leadoff single. It was one of several things that went right for the Lady Dons in a 7-0 victory this past Tuesday in the first home game of the season.

Morinishi was in complete control, averaging 10 pitches an inning and striking out four. She walked a pair of batters and even when Northview had a runner at third in the top of the seventh, she got a pop up to herself and a strikeout to end the game.

The only run that Morinishi needed came in the bottom of the second when sophomore first baseman Kiara Crockett-Pope drilled a laser shot home run over the centerfield fence. It was her first home run of the season and the team’s first as well. One out later, the only senior on the team, center fielder Alyssa Flores, doubled to the left field gap and came home when freshman left fielder Elise Gibbs reached on an error. Gibbs would then come home on a groundout from sophomore catcher Alyanna Hernandez.

Two innings later and with one out, Gibbs and Hernandez each singled and sophomore right fielder Kristina Mendez reached on an error to load the bases. Morinishi then plated a pair of runs with a two-out single to the right field gap. Crockett-Pope, who went two for two and drove in a pair, was walked to lead off the fifth and came home on a groundout from Gibbs.

The final tally came in the sixth when junior shortstop Lailoni Mayfield led off with a base hit to right and came home on a single from Crockett-Pope. The Lady Dons pounded out a season-high nine hits and improved to 2-3-1. They will play a doubleheader at El Modena High on Saturday before hosting Artesia High on Tuesday in the Suburban League opener for both teams. The scene will shift to Artesia on Thursday to complete the home and home series.

In other softball action, Gahr High, the second ranked team in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division III top 10 polls, have recorded a pair of shutouts to start action in the 5th annual Torrance National Tournament. The Lady Gladiators pushed across solo tallies in the top of the second and third innings and held on for a 2-0 win against Peninsula High this past Tuesday. The next day, a three-run bottom of the third inning propelled the team to a 5-0 win over Carson High.

Gahr, which just came back from the prestigious 21st annual Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Laughlin, NV where it went 2-2-1, scored in the bottom of the first when sophomore Dejanae Davis reached on an infield single and scored on a passed ball. Two frames later, freshman Giselle Tapia singled and came home on a triple from Davis. A base hit from sophomore Madison Huskey made it 3-0 and later in the inning, junior Alyssa Kumiyama came home on a double from senior Alyssa Cuffia. Davis went three for three while sophomore pitcher Danielle Martinez pitched six solid innings, scattering three hits and striking out half a dozen.

Gahr (7-3-1) advanced to the quarterfinals, which will be played tonight with the semifinals and the championship game slated for Saturday. The team will then visit Los Alamitos High on Tuesday before taking a little more than two weeks off before its next game.

John Glenn High will take its 3-3 mark into its home game against El Rancho High today before visiting Bellflower High on Tuesday in the Suburban League opener. Two days later, the teams will tangle again at Bellflower.

Norwalk High dropped a 7-6 decision in eight innings to El Rancho this past Monday to fall to 1-2. The Lady Lancers hosted California High in a doubleheader on Mar. 17 and will participate in the Whittier High Tournament on Saturday with their first game against Bishop Montgomery High.

Valley Christian High continues to struggle and was blasted by Ontario Christian High 13-0 this past Monday. The Lady Crusaders (1-6) have been outscored 58-9 and have been shutout four times. V.C. hosted neighbor Mayfair High on Mar. 17 and will travel to Calvary Chapel Downey High on Thursday.

Whitney High split a pair of games in the St. Monica Tournament, defeating Lawndale High 9-3 before falling to Santa Maria-based St. Joseph High 6-2. The Lady Wildcats (3-5) bounced back for a 10-5 win against Santiago High this past Tuesday and will travel to Long Beach Cabrillo High today. Whitney will also host Samueli Academy on Tuesday.

In 46 innings of work, freshman pitcher Taylor Genera has struck out 52 batters and is on pace to shatter the single-season mark for a freshman. In 1998, Jennifer Lukacs had 99 strikeouts as a ninth grader.

Senior catcher Jenna Llamas is hitting a blistering .722 while junior shortstop Ashley Iseri is second on the team with a .696 average with 13 runs batted in and three home runs. No one else is hitting over .360.