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Garden Grove goes down swinging in title game
IRVINE - Jasen Sutter vividly remembers walking into the same type of huddle three seasons ago, the kind where every set of tear-soaked eyes positioned themselves on him.
With that painful sting of defeat resurfacing in his stomach, Garden Grove’s softball coach wasn’t quite sure how he would address his team as he looked out over a distraught group of players.
What kept coming to mind was just how proud he was of this particular troupe.
Garden Grove mustered only three hits Saturday afternoon, dropping the CIF-SS Division 5 championship game to St. Bonaventure of Ventura, 8-0, at Bill Barber Park.
The Argonauts’ last CIF finals appearance came in 2012, a game several of the seniors played in as freshmen.
“To start out with five wins going into league and make it this far, they accomplished a lot,” Sutter said. “It’s tough to relay that today, but out of all the school’s in the division, they were one of the two finalists. They’ll never forget for the rest of their lives. I’m just so proud.”
The Argonauts finished the nonleague portion of their schedule with a 5-11 record, but proceeded to reel off 15 straight wins headed into their meeting with St. Bonaventure. Against Serphs ace Cielo Meza, one of the top strikeout artists in the Southern Section, Garden Grove (20-12) failed to string together any type of offense.
“We couldn’t touch her,” Sutter said of Meza. “That kid is unbelievable. We could not make the adjustments. We tried small ball, that didn’t work. Our power hitters couldn’t really put it together. … I knew she was good, but that’s the best pitcher we’ve seen this year.”
Meza retired the side in order in five of the seven innings. Headed into the seventh, the Argonauts had accounted for just one hit, and Meza had faced just one more batter than the minimum. Meza finished with eight strikeouts, bringing her five-game playoff total to 83.
The Seraphs (22-7), meanwhile, jumped on Garden Grove senior Celeste Villagrana in the second inning. Sophomore Angelina Flores gave St. Bonaventure the early lead with a two-run double off the right-center field fence. The Seraphs tacked on two additional runs, seizing a 4-0 lead.
Garden Grove’s second and third hits came in the seventh inning, but the Argos were never able to put a run across the plate.
“They hit Celeste a lot better than I thought they were going to,” Sutter added. “I thought it was going to be a 1-0, 2-1 low-scoring game. They had our number today. They didn’t make mistakes. They put the ball in play and made things happen. Sometimes it goes that way.”
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