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KEITH DURFLINGER , SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NEWS GROUP
La Habra's Janelle Rodriguez gets a hit against Rio Mesa in a CIF-SS Division 2 softball game Thursday.

La Habra savors another win as it streaks into semifinals

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

LA HABRA - For the third time in the last five years, the La Habra softball team is headed to the CIF-Southern Section semifinals.

The top-seeded Highlanders defeated Rio Mesa of Oxnard, 4-2, in a Division 2 quarterfinal game Thursday afternoon.

The Highlanders (29-1), who won their 26th consecutive game and are ranked 17th in the nation by MaxPreps, will travel to play Valley View of Moreno Valley on Tuesday in a semifinal game.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this (26-game win streak),” first-year coach Steve Harrington said. “It’s been a nice journey.”

Highlanders pitcher Hannah Johnson started the game by striking out seven consecutive batters before allowing a sharp single in the third inning. The junior allowed only two more hits in her five innings of work and picked up the win.

“I did it (struck out seven consecutive) when I was younger but not (in high school),” said Johnson, who has committed to Cal State Fullerton. “We mixed it (pitches) up a lot, and (catcher) Nikki (Butler) was calling really good pitches.”

La Habra, which won its only CIF-SS title in 1981, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after speedy junior left fielder Kira Cauley legged out an infield single, took second on an infield out, stole third and came home on a single by Butler.

Cauley was 2 for 3 with a walk and two stolen bases.

“This is a big deal,” Cauley said of reaching the semifinals. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team and be riding this road to the ring right now. The last two years we lost in the first round, so this is huge.”

Cauley was a factor in three of the four runs for the Highlanders.

Each team added a run in the sixth inning, with Rio Mesa leaving three runners in scoring position in the last two innings.

Fourth-ranked Valley View (26-1) defeated South Hills, 1-0, in nine innings Thursday.


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