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CIF-SS DIV. 1 REGIONALS: Short-handed Gahr roughed up by Southern Section Division 2 champions


By Loren Kopff• @LorenKopff on Twitter

June 2, 2022~When the Gahr High softball team fell to Roosevelt High in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 semifinals over two weeks ago, it knew their season wasn’t quite over. Despite not playing for a championship, nor be in action since May 14, the Gladiators were anxious to play in the program’s first ever CIF Southern California regional game.

The San Gabriel Valley League champions were pitted against Mission Viejo High, the Division 2 champions and after a close game through the first four innings, were torched in the fifth and sixth innings as the Diablos scored a dozen runs in those two innings to eliminate the Gladiators 13-2 this past Tuesday in a first round game.

“I’m proud of the girls, I really am,” said Gahr head coach Rey Sanchez. “I’m proud to be part of Gahr softball, I’m proud to say that I coached these girls, and it is great for the school. Even though this game didn’t turn out the way we wanted to…I can sit and make excuses and say we weren’t at full power. But the reality is I have some very capable softball players here.”

The Gladiators were missing a few key starters but were able to hold their own against the sixth-seeded team in the Division 1 regionals as the game was scoreless through the first three frames with each team picking up a pair of hits. In the top of the fourth, Mission Viejo struck first when Shayna Glass reached on an infield hit and scored on a two-out single from Hailey Stammer.

It deteriorated in the next inning when the Diablos got to sophomore pitcher Marley Cortez for four runs, all with one out. Gahr would try to get back in the game in its half of the frame when senior second baseman Mika Huskey reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a double from junior third baseman Hayley Olivas, the SGVL’s most valuable player. Three pitches later, Cortez plated Olivas for the second run.

But after that, Sofia Elliott would walk senior first baseman Amanda Ta’amu then retire the final four batters of the game. Meanwhile, Mission Viejo shut the door on Gahr’s season when it scored eight runs in the sixth inning before an out was recorded. The Gladiators had seven hits, two coming from junior center fielder Hailey Sanchez and the other five from as many players.

“I don’t think we were ready to play,” said Rey Sanchez. “We didn’t make a few plays we should have made for her. We didn’t play the defense that we normally play behind all our pitchers. We broke down on defense.”

Gahr (23-10) committed a season-high five errors, just the second time all season it had more than three errors in any game. It also surrendered season-highs in hits (13) and hits (15). The team allowed 14 hits to South Torrance High in a 10-0 loss on Mar. 4. In fact, Gahr had yielded 10 or more runs three times this season.

“We pride ourselves on defense; we always have,” said Rey Sanchez. “We spend a lot of time on defense, we spend a lot of time on glove work and making sure we’re throwing from multiple slots.”

In the postgame talk following the loss to Roosevelt, Rey Sanchez talked to his team about the possibility of playing in the Southern California regionals. Two days later, he spoke to five seniors, then the team and the majority were in favor of playing. A few of them had some questions as far as if playing in the regionals was bigger than playing for a CIF divisional championship.

“I’m glad they do have a state tournament, first of all,” said Rey Sanchez. “But one of the challenges in baseball and softball, when you run a state tournament this late, is you’re dealing with school activities. There’s graduation, there’s senior awards, there’s different ceremonies…I don’t want to make excuses. We have to overcome, regardless. But I will tell you it was very challenging to keep the girls motivated; to keep the girls focused after you put so much effort into a semifinal game.”

The Gahr program won 23 games or more for the fifth time since 2015 and reached the 20-win mark for the 10th time in the past 25 seasons.