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TORRANCE NATIONAL TOURNAMENT: Gahr ends tournament with second loss in seven hours, finishes in fourth place

 

Gahr High senior third baseman Jazmine Hill is tagged out by Grand Terrace High third baseman Nikki Barboza on her attempt to steal third base in the bottom of the first inning last Saturday evening in the third place game of the Torrance National Tournament. Gahr fell to the Titans 3-1 for its second loss of the season, as well as the day. Hill went two for two and scored her team’s lone run.

 

Tuesday March 19, 2019
By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

 

TORRANCE-An auspicious beginning to the third place game of the 2019 Torrance National Tournament last Saturday signaled the beginning to the end of a long day for the Gahr High softball team. The Lady Gladiators entered the day undefeated in six games and when the last out was recorded against Grand Terrace High, Gahr was staring at a two-game losing streak, falling 3-1 to end the tournament.

“I told the girls because we’re Gahr, we have a target on our back,” said Gahr first-year head coach Rey Sanchez. “Game one, we just let one inning kind of get away from us. They scored nine, we came out of character, we didn’t play catch. We threw strikes but we didn’t play catch like we needed to.

“In the second game, I thought we came out just a little bit flat, he continued. “We didn’t play as hard as we needed to play in this game. The umpire came out a little tight early on. [Senior pitcher] Daisy [Torres] did a great job of making some pitches in that first inning that she did not get.”

Gahr began the tournament, now in its eighth season and one that has attracted teams from outside California, edging Bryan (TX) High 2-1 last Thursday and blanking Frontier (CA) High 7-0 and Banning High 8-0 last Friday. But the 2016 champions of this tournament had a rare defensive collapse against Westlake High, committing a season-high five errors in a 9-7 loss earlier in the afternoon. The team’s moral seemed to carry over into the early evening game against the Titans.

Torres threw 29 pitches in the top of the first inning, mostly because she wasn’t getting the strike calls she had hoped. Grand Terrace loaded the bases with one out before Torres buckled down and struck out Ashlyn Zermeno and Ambrina Salazar. After a perfect second inning, the Titans broke through in the third inning. With one out, Priscilla Estrada singled and stole second. Following Torres’ fifth strikeout of the game, she would walk Nikki Barboza and allowed Zermeno to be safe on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. A seven-pitch battle with Salazar ended with a walk and Estrada crossing home plate.

“Daisy was upset, but I’m very proud of the fact that she overcame that,” Sanchez said. “Every call is not going to go your way. There’s a side of Daisy that has some fire. It might not always show, but I know she has some fire and she got upset.”

The Titans added to their lead in the fourth inning on a two-out single from Estrada. But the Lady Gladiators, who had a run robbed in the bottom of the second inning, avoided being shutout when senior third baseman Jazmine Hill singled, stole second and came home on a base hit from senior designated player Shasiel Fregoso.

Two innings prior and with Fregoso standing at first, junior center fielder Sydni Jones launched a deep fly ball to left that was caught by Bella Morales. Her momentum carried her over the temporary fence, and it appeared that she had dropped the ball as she was falling over the fence. But the home plate umpire ruled her out and Fregoso moved to second where she would eventually be stranded.

“The umpire said she caught the ball,” Sanchez said. “She landed on the ground and the ball was in her hand. We thought the ball came out. I did not see the ball come out, but my first base coach saw the ball come out. But I did ask a fan out there if the ball came out and he said, ‘no, the ball stayed in’.”

Grand Terrace iced the game in the top of the fifth when Alexa View scored on a Salazar single. Gahr still had a very good chance to tie or even win the game in its half of the inning. With one out, sophomore left fielder Kristalyn Romulo was safe on an infield single and advanced on a single from senior second baseman Gisele Tapia. A walk to Hill after a nine-pitch battle loaded the bases before a pop-up and groundout ended the game. Gahr stranded seven runners while the Titans left eight on the bases, including the bases loaded in the first and third innings.

“The difference in this game is they came up with two very big timely hits,” Sanchez said. “Both times with the base open and a runner at second base and we were in a pitch-tough situation; don’t give in to the hitter. We didn’t quite make the pitches that we needed to make in that situation.”

The Lady Gladiators began the season pounding out 49 hits in their first three games and continued that momentum into the five-game tournament, collecting 40 hits. When Gahr won the tournament three seasons ago, the Lady Gladiators outscored their opponents 22-9 and defeated North Torrance High 7-5 for the championship.

“I love it; I love playing games like this because we don’t always get the really strong competition with all of our league,” Sanchez said. “So, I love going outside of league and playing tournaments like this, especially prestigious tournaments.”

Gahr will now take more than a week off before its next game, which will be against Dominguez High on Mar. 26 in the San Gabriel Valley League opener. Sanchez said he saw enough in this tournament to work on team defense and team offense during the long break. Gahr will also play in the prestigious Michelle Carew Classic later in the season where it face Santiago High and Vail, AZ-based Cienega High in pool play action.

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