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CIF-SS DIV. 5 SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS – Norwalk’s second inning offensive barrage backs up Banda’s pitching gem in second round rout


Norwalk High senior right fielder/pinch runner Kazandra Gonzalez slides into home and scores her team’s third run in bottom of the second inning in this past Tuesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 5 second round win against Montclair High. The Lancers would eliminate the Cavaliers 7-0 as all runs were scored in the inning. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer.


By Loren Kopff• @LorenKopff on Twitter

May 11, 2022~In 2016, the Norwalk High softball team advanced to the CIF-Southern Section quarterfinals. Two years later, the Lancers got to that spot again and this season, thanks to a sophomore pitcher, a senior-ladened team and one big inning against Montclair High, Norwalk is back in the quarterfinals.

Jailynn Banda had one of her finest pitching performances of her brief high school career, retiring the first nine batters she faced and the final 11 batters of the game as the Lancers blanked the 10th ranked Cavaliers 7-0 this past Tuesday in a Division 5 second round game. Banda gave up a first-pitch single to Adriana Velasquez to begin the top of the fourth inning, then a base hit to Vivian Medinilla on an 0-2 count. A comebacker to Banda off the bat Annica Umana forced Velasquez at third and after that, no other Montclair hitter would reach base.

“Technically, I wasn’t supposed to come to Norwalk,” said Banda. “I was supposed to go to a private school. But you know what, this is my city that I want to represent. Last year we went to [the playoffs]; we made it to the first round and this time, we’re doing it better and we’re doing it harder than last year. We’re going to fight until we win [a championship].”

An emotional Banda added that she was doing this for the 11 seniors and former head coach Vic Juan, who passed away shortly before the season began.

“In the first three innings, I know she mixed her pitches,” said Norwalk first-year head coach Fred Perez. “But in the last four, when she was closing them out, she really felt comfortable. Everything was working for her. She was going with the pitches she felt most comfortable.”

In the first three innings, Banda got four batters to groundout, three of them to her, and she struck out three. In the last three frames, she struck out four, including the side in the seventh inning, and ended the game with eight strikeouts while throwing 81 pitches. She was up to 45 pitches entering the fourth inning and threw a first-pitch strike to 14 of the 23 batters she faced.

“I was scared because I have never seen this team,” said Banda. “We researched them for a good couple of days and [there was] nothing on them. So, I was looking nervous; I didn’t know what do. But I knew that me and my catcher and my defense were good and whatever happened, happened.

“I was thinking, ‘okay, we make mistakes at the end of the day’,” said Banda of losing the perfect game. “No one is ever going to be perfect. I was thinking just to keep going. We were up, so I was feeling relieved.”

Offensively, the Lancers did all their damage in the bottom of the second inning when they sent 11 batters to face Desirae Garcia. It started when senior first baseman Brianna Perez singled to right and Garcia walked junior left fielder Kasarey Lotts. Another walk to sophomore designated player Itzel Hernandez loaded the bases and with one out, junior second baseman Leilani Juan blooped a single to right field, scoring senior pinch runner Andrea Torres.


Norwalk High sophomore pitcher Jailynn Banda had one of her best outings of her brief high school career against Montclair High in a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 second round game this past Tuesday. Banda was perfect through the first three innings, gave up a pair of hits in the top of the fourth, then retired the last 11 batters she faces as the Lancers cruised to a 7-0 win. PHOTO BY ARMANDO VARGAS, Contributing photographer

Senior catcher Aby Castro would follow with an infield knock back to Garcia, whose throw home to get Lotts was not in time. Three pitches later, sophomore shortstop Kendall Nakano singled to center, plating senior pinch runner Kazandra Gonzalez and Juan. An infield single from junior third baseman Cerise Cervantes would load the bases again and after the second out, an error allowed Brianna Perez to reach first and clear the bases.

“They executed the squeeze perfectly in that inning, and then they made that one error…that opened the game for us,” said Fred Perez. “It gave Banda a little more breathing room to do what she does on that mound.”

Only four runners would reach base the rest of the game after the second inning and even when the Cavaliers put the first two batters on base in the fourth inning, Fred Perez wasn’t feeling too comfortable.

“I told the girls regardless of what the score is, they’re not going to go out without fighting,” he said. “In [the fourth inning], they came back and had two people on base and that’s exactly what I expected them to do.”

Cervantes and Nakano each had a pair of hits as the Lancers (20-7), ranked seventh in the division, posted the program’s first 20-win season in at least 25 years. Before this season, the best season Norwalk has had since 1999 came in 2001 and 2007 when those teams finished 19-8. The Lancers, who finished in a tie for second place with Mayfair High in the Suburban League, traveled to second ranked El Toro High on May 12. A win over the second place representatives from the Sea View League would put Norwalk in the semifinals at either Fillmore High or Flintridge Sacred Heart High on Saturday. Both are unranked.

“That was our goal with Coach Vic, and what we all talked about was making noise in the playoffs,” said Fred Perez. “We remind every single girl, and our whole program, that Coach Vic’s main thing was look good, feel good and play good. He wanted us to make noise. I know he’s here and he’s celebrating with us.

“We just told the girls we’ve got to bring the same energy we have here at home…we have to take it on the road,” he later added. “That’s the main thing; the energy we bring helps us and carries our team.”