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Laguna Hills pulls off stunning comeback
LAGUNA HILLS – Laguna Hills’ Erika Morris said she normally likes to watch the first pitch she sees in every at-bat. The Hawks are glad she didn’t follow her normal routine Tuesday.
The freshman designated player ripped the first pitch she saw for a walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Hawks to a thrilling come-from-behind 4-3 triumph over Burroughs (Burbank) in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 second-round game at Laguna Hills High.
The game-winner capped off a three-run inning which saw the Hawks score all of its runs after two were out.
“That was a nice win,” said Hawks 30-year coach Cary Crouch. “These girls can be a little goofy at times, but they put it together at the end.”
The victory advances Laguna Hills (16-11) to the quarterfinals, where it will face Gahr (Cerritos) on Thursday at an undetermined site.
Laguna Hills’ rally was set into motion an inning earlier when Indians starting pitcher Presley Miraglia injured her right ring finger while attempting to field a ground ball. She was able to finish the sixth inning, but was visibly in pain while warming up for the seventh.
Before the injury, Miraglia was dominant, limiting the Hawks to just three hits and one run. She threw three pitches in the seventh before she was taken out of the game.
“The injury was obviously huge,” said Crouch. “We were having no luck until her finger got hurt.”
Freshman Hannah Talavera came in relief and recorded the first out of the inning, but walked cleanup hitter Maddie Allen. Alex Valencia hit into a fielder’s choice, and then the heroics began.
Sophomore shortstop Katherine Larson blooped a single over the shortstop and hustled to second base, barely beating the throw. With runners on second and third, junior first baseman Courtney Kim tied the game with a single to center field that eluded Burroughs center fielder Delaney Nicol, allowing Kim to race to third.
One pitch later,the game was over when Morris’ shot just cleared the reach of left fielder Dominique Santos.
“I saw a fastball inside and I pulled it,” said Morris. “As soon as I saw it tip off that girls glove, I said ‘thank you.’”
“It’s nobody’s fault,” said Indians coach Doug Nicol. “Hannah was thrown into a tough situation. Presley was pitching her butt off and she hurt her finger. But in the end of the day you have to make plays, and we didn’t.”
Burroughs made plays early on — both at the plate and on the field.
In the first, the Indians (23-5) scored all of its runs on a two-out bases-loaded double by Destiny Velasquez. The Indians held onto the lead thanks to a stellar defense, which included a diving catch by Nicol in the fourth.
“We did play defense, except in the seventh,” said coach Nicol.
Hawks hurlers Heather Turner and Megan Casper limited Burroughs to just one more hit the remainder of the game. Caspar (10-5) was especially stellar, retiring all nine batters she faced to earn the victory.
Laguna Hills tallied a run in the first when Teah Theis led off with a single and later scored on a single by Allen.
“We’re not giving games away like we did earlier in the season,” said Crouch. “The girls are settling into their roles and taking care of business.”
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