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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Gahr softball denied third straight undefeated league season, outplayed by Downey

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


DOWNEY-The Gahr High softball team had already clinched a piece of the San Gabriel Valley League championship for the fifth straight season and was seeking its 39thstraight win in league action. But Downey High also had plans of a league title, its first since 2012, and the only way to do that was to beat the visiting Lady Gladiators on the last day of the regular season.

The Vikings scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and four more in the fourth and staved off a late rally to beat Gahr 7-5 this past Wednesday. It’s Gahr’s first loss to Downey since Apr. 30, 2013.

“In this game, they were they better team, and that’s it,” said Gahr head coach Shawn Quarles. “There’s no other way to put it. This game they were better than they were last time and last time we were the better team.”

This was a battle of the top teams in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section’s Division 1 and 4. Gahr was off and running in the top of the first inning, or at least that’s what it appeared to be when senior shortstop Dejaenae Davis was safe on an infield single. On the next pitch, junior second baseman Giselle Tapia hit a ball that was tailing towards the right field gap. But Downey center fielder Linda Gaspar hauled it down, then doubled up Davis who was nearly at second base, thinking the ball wouldn’t be caught.

That was one of a few momentum killers because senior center fielder Madison Huskey, who was walked, came home on triple from junior left fielder Jazmin Hill.

“She thought that the ball was going to hit that gap and I did too,” Quarles said. “It was a nice, hard hit and she just kind of got caught out there. I don’t know if that exactly was a momentum change.”

With Downey up 3-1, the Lady Gladiators (21-5, 9-1) cut into their deficit in the fourth as freshman catcher Grace Rivera singled, stole second and came home on a double from Davis. But when the Vikings (23-6, 9-1) scored the four runs in the bottom half of the frame, all of them unearned, it marked the largest deficit Gahr had faced all season long. Three of its previous four losses have been by a run and the other by two runs.

In the fifth, and with one out, Hill doubled and came home on a single from freshman third baseman Taylor Stephens. Three pitches later, Stephens made it 7-4 when she scored on an error that allowed senior first baseman Jade Wittman to be safe.

Gahr added its last run in the sixth as sophomore pinch hitter Johanna Rodriguez singled and was replaced by junior pinch runner Irene Dorado, who touched home plate when Hill was safe on a fielder’s choice.

Gahr, which pounded out 13 hits, had its chances to score throughout the game. But it stranded 10 runners on base including the tying runs in the final two innings.

“That was the positive thing that we can take out of it, is that they refuse to give up,” Quarles said. “But, too little, too late and not enough timely hitting.”

Gahr began the season unranked in the Division until jumping all the way up to fourth when the Mar. 26 polls came out. The Lady Gladiators had taken over the top spot for the first time this past Monday, but now Quarles is unsure where his team will be seeded when the brackets come out on Monday.

“We’re definitely beatable and when we come against a team that’s better than us on that day, they will beat us,” Quarles said. “And I think today it was pretty clear cut that Downey was the better team. The tide may be shifting. They hadn’t beat us in a while and they beat us today. They have a nice, young team. They wanted it more than us today.”

In other softball action, Artesia High dropped an 8-0 decision to Mayfair High this past Wednesday to finish the regular season at 10-12 overall, 5-7 in the Suburban League, and fifth place. That means Norwalk High, a 10-0 win over Bellflower High, clinched fourth place and the last automatic spot out of the league. The Lady Lancers will enter the playoffs at 10-10, 6-6.

Valley Christian High hosted Heritage Christian High on May 10 with a possible playoff spot on the line. The Lady Crusaders entered the game at 9-10 overall and 2-5 in the Olympic League. A win will lock down third place, but a loss will tie V.C. with Whittier Christian for third.


Cerritos High visited Norwalk High on May 10 with the winner getting the final automatic spot out of the Suburban League. The Dons edged the Lancers 1-0 this past Tuesday to snap a four-game losing streak and improve to 16-10 overall and 5-6 in the circuit. The Lancers fell to 10-12, 4-7.

John Glenn High, which had already secured second place in the Suburban League, posted a 3-2, nine-inning win over Bellflower this past Tuesday. The two teams met at Rio Hondo College on May 10.


Cerritos, the No. 3 seeded team in the Open Division, blasted Long Beach Cabrillo High 17-4 this past Tuesday and hosted second seeded Arcadia High on May 10. A win will put the Dons on the finals on Saturday against either Diamond Bar High or Westminster High.


Cerritos fell to Huntington Beach High 12-6 this past Wednesday in a Division 2 first round match and Gahr High, last season’s Division 5 champion fell to Burbank High 12-6 in the Division 3 first round. In Division 5, Valley Christian fell to Bishop Montgomery High 9-9 (73-57) this past Wednesday.


Cerritos lost a five-set match to Damien High 19-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-21, 15-8 this past Tuesday in a Division 3 first-round affair while in Division 2 action, Valley Christian was swept by San Juan Hills High 25-16, 25-15, 25-21 this past Tuesday.

In Division 5, second seeded Norwalk swept Samuelli Academy 25-15, 25-14, 25-10 this past Tuesday and traveled to Palmdale Aerospace Academy on May 10.