Santa Margarita wins back-and-forth battle with Dana Hills


There were glimpses of resiliency from both teams, but with time running out, Santa Margarita’s softball team found a way to defeat Dana Hills on Wednesday.

With the score knotted in the fifth inning, Abbie Singer and Miranda Johnson provided RBI singles that lifted the Eagles to a 5-3 win over the Dolphins in a second-round game in the Saddleback Valley Tournament at Alicia Park.

The game was stopped after five innings because of the 90-minute time limit on the tournament’s games.

“Last year we didn’t have a very good experience here, but we’re playing a lot better now,” said Santa Margarita sophomore pitcher Paige Vargas, referencing the team’s 1-3 finish in the tournament a season ago. “It’s definitely redemption.”

After Dana Hills jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, Vargas limited the Dolphins to two hits and one run over the next four innings. The Eagles ace allowed just four hits and struck out four to earn her fifth win of the season.

“We’ve really got one of the best pitchers in the county,” Santa Margarita coach John Fitzpatrick said of Vargas. “There’s a lot of pressure as a pitcher, but she’s got some good kids to pick her up all the time.”

With the Eagles trailing by two runs going into the second, the bottom half of the team’s order quickly loaded the bases for Johnson. The talented freshman leadoff hitter smacked an RBI single to center on a full count, and Kat Holmes-Stall tied the score with a sacrifice fly that drove in a run.

The Eagles (5-3) briefly took the lead in the fourth when Marisa Pla utilized her speed and scored from second base on an infield single by Holmes-Stall.

Dana Hills (6-3) tied the score, 3-3, in the bottom half of the inning, capitalizing on a Santa Margarita throwing error that allowed Jessie Nagel to score from second.

Also in the Saddleback Valley Tournament:

No. 4 Orange Lutheran 10, San Clemente 0: Freshman center fielder Ciara Briggs went 3 for 3 with a triple, RBI, three runs and a stolen base for the Lancers.

Capistrano Valley 8, Laguna Hills 3: Hayley Hensley hit a two-run home run for the Cougars.

In the Mark Takkinen Memorial Classic:

Brea Olinda 10, Yucaipa 8: Nicole Stark and Nina Del Rio each drove in a run to break a tie for the Wildcats, who have won four in a row.

In nonleague:

Villa Park 5, Woodbridge 2: Freshmen Jolie Grant and Bri Guerra each went 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles for the Spartans in the win at Woodbridge.

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