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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Gahr softball stumbles in tail end of Torrance National Tournament

March 20, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

TORRANCE-The way the Gahr High softball team began the 13th Torrance National Tournament was nowhere near the ending the Gladiators wanted as they resume Gateway League action this week. Gahr won its two pool play games over Santa Monica High and Banning High, respectively, but struggled in a 4-1 loss to Rio Mesa High last Friday night, followed by a 3-1 loss to Torrance High last Saturday morning and finally a 6-1 setback to Redondo Union High about four hours later.

To put the tournament into perspective, Gahr had 15 hits in its two wins, but combined for 13 hits in the three losses. After winning their first three games of the season and four of the first six games, the Gladiators began this week at 7-6 overall with seven runs scored in the six losses.

“Rio Mesa is definitely a good club,” said Gahr head coach Rey Sanchez. “We had one bad inning in that game where we gave them the four [runs]. We had our opportunities in that game. We were [also] not at full strength. We were missing [seniors] Larissa [Flores] and Alyssa [Aguilar] because they were away at Calculus Camp. That changes our landscape of our lineup quite a bit. We needed some other girls to kind of step up and we didn’t get that in this tournament.”

Sanchez continued to say that the two games last Saturday at West Torrance High was the fourth location of the five-game tournament for the Gladiators. They were supposed to play their pool play games on Mar. 9. However, Banning has a scheduling conflict and couldn’t play Gahr until late in the evening on Mar. 11 at Torrance. Then the game last Friday was another late contest, plus an 8:00 a.m. contest last Saturday followed by the 12:00 game, which was for seventh place in the Gold Division, for winners of the eight pools.

Sophomore pitcher Olina Burgueno, who was making her first start of the season, yielded a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, and four more two innings later. She pitched in three of the five innings played, allowed seven hits, struck out two and walked one. Half of the runs were unearned as Gahr committed four errors.

Offensively, the Gladiators cracked the scoring column in the bottom of the third when designated player Ciera Contreras singled to right and scored when junior second baseman Malaia Huskey singled to center two batters later. Only two other runners would reach base of the final 10 for the game.

“We didn’t get the key hits when we needed them,” said Sanchez. “We had a few opportunities; we just didn’t execute. We weren’t at our best and it was a weird tournament. I know we’re better than that. We’ll get it right; we’re going to get it right. We just hit a little bump in the road, and I know we’ll figure it out in the end. We’ll be fine.”

Gahr went to La Habra High this past Tuesday in a makeup game originally scheduled for Mar. 7 and defeated the Highlanders 6-4 to move to 8-6 overall. They visited Mayfair High on Mar. 21 and will entertain La Mirada High on Tuesday before facing Norco High on Wednesday in a first round game of the Michelle Carew Classic. The winner of that game will face either Grand Terrace High or Great Oak High on Thursday.

“Mayfair has a really good pitcher,” said Sanchez. “There are no easy games for us in our league. Mayfair got us last year at their place. Their pitcher threw a really good game at us. I know it’s going to be a good battle. They’ve really improved, and our girls have to be ready to go. I’m sure it’s going to be a tight game.

In other softball action, Artesia High shutout Oxford Academy 10-0 this past Tuesday to improve to 7-5-1 overall, 2-0 in 605 League action. The Pioneers host John Glenn High on Friday, then play a pair of games next week against Cerritos High with Tuesday’s game on the road and Thursday’s rematch at home.

Norwalk High is sitting at 10-5 overall as it was scheduled to visit Firebaugh High on Mar. 21 and will go to Paramount High on Tuesday before hosting Bellflower High on Thursday.

One of the surprise stories this season comes from Valley Christian High, where the Defenders slammed Maranatha High 12-2 last Thursday to improve to 10-3 overall, 2-0 in the Olympic League. V.C. has not won more than nine games since 2015 when that team finished 13-14. The Defenders are ranked second in Division 5 and hosted Village Christian High on Mar. 21 for their last game until Apr. 9


Artesia blanked Pioneer High 5-0 this past Tuesday in the 605 League opener, the fourth straight win over the Titans after five straight losses. The Pioneers (5-5, 1-0) will host Pioneer on Friday, visit Cerritos on Tuesday before hosting the Dons on Thursday. Cerritos is 9-3 overall following a 13-2 win at John Glenn High this past Tuesday in the league opener for both. Cerritos will host Glenn on Friday and travel to St. Anthony High on Saturday.

After winning four straight games, Gahr has lost back to back 6-4 games to Loyola High, last Friday, and Arcadia High, this past Wednesday. The Gladiators will host Arcadia again on Friday and Santiago High out of Corona on Saturday before entertaining Warren High on Tuesday in the front end of a home and home series. The rematch will be on Thursday at the home of the Bears.

Glenn knocked off Bosco Tech High 9-3 this past Wednesday to improve to 5-5, matching the victory output of last season. The Eagles hosted Long Beach Cabrillo High on Mar. 21 and are scheduled for a Saturday doubleheader against Maywood Center for Enriched Studies before hosting Whitney High on Tuesday and Compton Early College on Wednesday. Glenn then goes to Whitney on Thursday.

La Mirada has won six straight to improve to 9-3 after an easy 14-3 win at Warren this past Tuesday. The Matadores, who are now 3-1 in the Gateway League, hosted Warren on Mar. 21 to complete the season series, then host Downey High on Tuesday before ending the week with another game against the Vikings.

Norwalk dropped an 8-2 decision to Downey this past Tuesday, falling to 2-9, 0-5. After hosting the Vikings on Mar. 21, the Lancers will welcome Maywood CES on Tuesday.

Valley Christian dropped a 7-1 decision to Valley View High last Saturday to fall to 5-6 overall. It’s the third time this season the Defenders have been below .500. The Defenders visited Maranatha this past Wednesday and will host the Minutemen on Friday, Riverside Prep on Saturday and Redlands East Valley High on Thursday.

Whitney ended a five-game losing streak with a 9-1 win over Workman High last Thursday. The Wildcats will face Oxford Academy in a home and home series, hosting the Patriots on Tuesday and going on the road on Thursday.