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CIF-SS Div 7 SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS: Cole steps in and lifts John Glenn to historic victory as dream season continues


June 9, 2021

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter


When John Glenn High’s softball team lost a heartbreaking 8-7, 12-inning game to Artesia High on the last day of the regular season on May 26, head coach Larry Leal wasn’t confident his Lady Eagles would get an at-large berth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 playoffs. In fact, he wished he had known that Glenn was going to make the playoffs so he could have practices to wrap up the final week of May.

The way fourth-ranked Glenn has been playing since the beginning of the playoffs, maybe there’s no need for practices. On the heels of a 14-0 win at Shandon High last Thursday, the Lady Eagles put together another masterpiece against Magnolia High last Saturday morning. Junior pitcher Gabby Ortega allowed two hits and faced two batters over the minimum as Glenn blanked the Sentinels 10-0, marking the first time in school history that anyone can remember the Glenn softball program has won two playoff games in the same season.

“We’re trying to build a program here and we have a lot of great kids this season,” Leal said. “We’ll have a lot of great kids coming in next season and hopefully we can continue doing what we’re doing.”

The last time the program hosted a playoff game was 1990 and the Lady Eagles fell to Arlington High 4-1 in the 3-A Division first round. Before that, Glenn’s last playoff berth was in 1986, a 3-0 setback to Sunny Hills High in the 3-A first round. Since 1999, six head coaches have come through the program, including Leal, with only Patricia Frazier (12-11 in 1999) and Pam Trimble (12-9-1 in 2004) having winning records in a season until 2021.

“I’m just glad we’re in [the playoffs]; I’m glad for the kids,” Leal said. “It’s all for them; it’s not for me.

“Everybody tells me, everybody,” he later said when reminded of Glenn’s playoff history. “I tell them; I let them know. But everybody tells them. They got a winning season already.”

“We’ve never been to CIF before and I’m excited that we get to go, said freshman catcher Julia Cole.

Ortega gave up a one-out single to Audrey Jaques in the top of the first inning, who tried to stretch it into a double and was out at second. After that, Ortega retired three straight and eight of the next nine before yielding a fourth-inning single to Myla Flores. However, Amaya Armenta flew out to freshman center fielder Diana Bravo, then quickly throw to freshman first baseman Anais Perez to complete the double play. None of Magnolia’s five base runners would reach second base.

Meanwhile, all the run support Ortega needed came in the bottom of the first inning.  Bravo reached on an error and Ortega tripled to the right field gap. Then with one out, Cole doubled to left and came home when freshman second baseman Janessa Leal also doubled. She would score the game’s third run when Perez was safe on an error.

Glenn’s number one catcher, freshman Sienna Contreras, was unable to play due to a prior family obligation. So, Cole, who is normally an outfielder and the team’s starting third baseman, stepped in and went above and beyond the call of duty. Although she was a single short of hitting for the cycle, she did hit for the cycle against Whitney High on Apr. 27.

“They told me to catch and I tried my best to just help the team out,” Cole said. “I think I did pretty well to help my team to do good, even with hitting. I’m very proud of them that we’ve come a long way and I hope that we win CIF.”

“She’s just an all-around player,” Larry Leal said. “She can play anywhere except pitcher.”

In the next inning, Ortega and sophomore shortstop Beatriz Galvez both reached on the third and fourth errors of the game for Magnolia. Two pitches later, Cole blasted a three-run home run over the left center fence for a 7-0 lead.

The last three runs were scored in the third inning with freshman right fielder Veronica Flores reaching on an error and coming home on a two-out base hit from Ortega. That would be followed by a Galvez double and a Cole triple. All nine batters for Glenn reached in form or another with Cole going three for three and driving in five runs. Ortega went two for three and scored three times while five other players had one hit apiece. Ortega also needed 62 pitches to get her job done, striking out two, walking one and reaching a three-ball count three times. The win over Magnolia was the third shutout of the season and the fifth mercy rule game.

“Gabby is good,” Cole said. “She doesn’t have a pitching coach; she just comes out and does her best and I’m proud of her for pitching for Glenn all three years already. I hope she succeeds and does good with the rest of our crew.”

“We just tell them to come to practice and get ready for the next game; don’t look to the other game after that,” Larry Leal said. “We just make sure that they’re focused and ready.”

Glenn’s season would to an end this past Tuesday as it fell to fifth-ranked Alverno Heights Academy 8-4 in the quarterfinals to conclude at 10-6 overall.