Roundup: Loara off to strong start in playoffs


Loara coach Todd Rolph was surprised when he woke up to an email Monday morning informing him his squad was listed on the schedule for a Division 4 wild-card round game.

With the Saxons coming in at No. 6 in the CIF-Southern Section’s final regular-season poll, they were one of only two ranked teams - Ocean View being the other - forced to participate in one of the division’s 14 play-in games.

Approaching the matchup as an opportunity to get a postseason contest in under its belt, the Saxons cruised past Notre Dame of Riverside, 12-0, on Tuesday afternoon at Loara High.

“We didn’t have to wait until Thursday to play, so we kind of got those playoff nerves out of the way,” Rolph said. “Now you can just go out and compete.”

Loara (20-7) will travel to Rialto on Thursday for a first-round matchup. The Knights finished the regular season with a 19-5 record, but were not ranked in the final CIF poll.

“It’s a nice challenge, playing on the road, trying to earn a second-round home game,” Rolph added. “All I know is that they were league champs, and they’re another team that’s going to come out and compete.”

Senior pitcher Vanessa Ledesma, junior first baseman Katheryn Navarro and freshman third baseman Yolanda Oregel each finished with three RBI.

With the Saxons leading, 2-0, in the fourth inning, Ledesma’s three-run bomb to left-center field highlighted a six-run inning that blew the game open.

The Saxons tacked on four runs in the fifth, three of which came on Navarro’s home run over the left-center field fence that ended the game due to the mercy rule.

“All the seniors were pumped up,” Ledesma explained. “We want this. We all want our rings.”

The Saxons right-hander struck out four and scattered four hits in five innings. She worked out of bases-loaded jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings, as Notre Dame (12-11) stranded nine runners.

Also in Division 4:

Ocean View 5, Lakeside of Lake Elsinore 2: Senior hurler Billi Derleth struck out 14 and the Seahawks scored the final five runs. They will be at La Canada on Thursday for a first-round game.

Trailing 3-1 headed into the sixth, the Seahawks (19-6) scored three runs on a pair of RBI singles from Penelope Russ and Indiana Boes, while Anika Ortiz doubled home another. Ortiz finished the game with two critical RBI, as her triple drove in Ocean View’s first run in the fourth inning.

Olivia Russ drove in a run in the seventh inning.

In Division 3:

Hemet 5, Beckman 3: The visiting Bulldogs scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to shock the Patriots in the wild-card game.

Beckman was a strike away from winning, but a bases-loaded walk in the seventh tied the score at 3-3 and set the stage for Hemet’s Avea Gaono. The Bulldogs catcher roped a two-run double to left-center field, scoring the go-ahead runs.

The Patriots (7-18) put runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom half of the seventh, but Maddie Holzberg’s line drive resulted into a quick double play, which was followed up by a strikeout to end the game.

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