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SURF CITY SUMMER SHOWCASE : Pitching remains hot for oldest Artesia Punishers squad at final showcase tournament

By Loren Kopff


FOUNTAIN VALLEY-Head coach Bob Medina hasn’t been shy when talking about his pitching staff for the 2017-2018 Artesia Punishers team. And with the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championship on the horizon, July 21 to be exact, his three hurlers are more than ready to tackle the competition and hopefully bring Medina his second national championship.

The Punishers went 3-1-1 last weekend in the PGF Surf City Summer Showcase at the Fountain Valley Sports Complex. But more importantly, the pitching staff of Yamila Evans (San Marino High, Siena College), DeAndria Lockett (Hawthorne High, La Sierra University) and Kristen Lucas (Roosevelt High, Butler College) combined to post an earned run average of 0.78 over 27 innings, giving up 15 hits, walking seven and striking out 35.

“Well, last week I challenged them all and I told them all that their summer is over,” Medina said. “We have to play. They’re all going to college, so they have to play at a college level and they have to get ready, if anything, for college when they walk in the first day. The pitchers have been working almost everyday and you can see the progress. I still have all the faith in the world in my three pitchers. They all pitch over 60, so, I’m really happy for them.”

This past Saturday morning, the Punishers edged the (New Braunfels, TX) AZ Bombers-Bueno 1-0 as the three pitchers combined to yield two hits, strike out seven and walk one. Later in the morning, the Punishers rallied late to tie the (Fremont) Lady Wolfpack-Alkire 1-1.

Evans led off the bottom of the sixth with a first-pitch home run over the left center fence to account for the only tally. Evans had earlier pitched the first two innings, allowing a pair of hits and striking out one. The lone run for the Lady Wolfpack came in the top of the fifth when Milan Machado-Buckley tripled to lead off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly from Kristen Arias.

The Punishers had chances to score earlier, but had a runner thrown out at home in the second and another caught stealing in the third. Both teams had five hits and an error.

Following the game, the Punishers scored twice in each of the first three innings and went on to defeat the (Worcester) Mass Rapids 6-1. With one out in the top of the first, Destiny Munoz (Santa Fe High, Montreat College) was walked, Natalie Davila (Carson High) reached on an error and Alizah Ayon (Santa Fe High, University of Rochester) was also walked to load the bases. Stephanie Jimenez (Santa Fe High, Weatherford College) then singled in Munoz and Davila scored on an error.)

In the next inning, Samantha Noriega (Carson High) and Anessa Quiroz (San Pedro High, Monroe College) each singled and scored one out later on a sacrifice fly from Sierra Sandoval (San Pedro High) and Evans respectively. In the third, Noriega, who had two hits in her two at-bats, brought in a pair of runs with a two-out double to center. Jimenez would also collect two hits in both of her at-bats and three other Punishers would add a hit apiece.

This past Sunday, the Punishers fell to the (Chatsworth) Easton Elite Softball Academy 3-2 as the opponent scored two runs in the bottom of the second to take a two-run lead. Already down 1-0, the Punishers tied the contest in their half of the second when Trinity Seguritan (Kahuku, HI High) singled and came home on a two-out error. In the fifth, Quiroz reached on a fielder’s choice and courtesy runner Breanna Padilla (Paramount High) touched home plate following a single from Megan Soto (Santa Fe High).

It was an easier game against the (Mira Mesa) San Diego Rowdies to wrap up the tournament as the Punishers erupted for five runs in the bottom of the first and two more in the third for a 7-0 run. Lockett struck out seven of the 10 batters she faced and Lucas allowed two hits in the two innings she pitched and did not allow a runner to reach second.

“I think we should have won both games [today],” Medina said. “I really do. Just the way we came out flat; everybody is kind of relaxing…it’s not going to happen anymore. I picked up a couple of players, so, they’re adding to [the team]. Not only that, they can put the fight in it. I can go to anybody, pull someone out and put [the new players] in. So, it’s what it is. We have to go into Nationals a little tougher than we’ve done the last three years.”

Meanwhile, the offense had eight hits with the biggest one coming from Noriega when she belted a three-run home run. Jimenez went two for two with a run batted in and five for 11 in the five games. But once again, it was all about the pitching. Medina employed a tactic of using all three pitchers for two innings each in three of the five games, two innings each for Evans and Lockett in the Mass Rapids game and three for Lockett and two for Lucas against the Rowdies.

“I want them to know that they’re going to pitch two innings and then the next one is going to come in no matter what,” Medina said. “Regardless of if someone gets a hit or someone does not, you have to go in there and give me 150 percent. Today, we wanted to give as many people as we can an even number amount so that we get a good perspective of who’s going to be throwing the best ERA. You have to have that going into the game. If it takes somebody else to get a little more work, well then that somebody else is going to get that extra work.”

Lockett pitched 10 innings and did not allow a hit in any of her five outings while Evans worked nine innings and Lucas eight. While the same strategy may not happen at the PGF National Championship. Medina hopes that his starters can go four or five innings with a second one coming in with a different approach.