El Modena pulls out victory over Huntington Beach


HUNTINGTON BEACH – Playoff games often come down to a handful of plays.

That was the case Tuesday in a second-round CIF-SS Division 1 softball game between El Modena and Huntington Beach.

Marina Marzolino staked the Vanguards to an early lead with a first-inning home run, but a key defensive play in the sixth inning helped them fend off the Oilers in an 8-2 victory at Huntington Beach High.

The Vanguards (22-8) entered the sixth with a 3-0 lead. Marzolino (14-5), who had allowed just two hits to that point, allowed a lead-off single to Alyssa Horeczko.

She was spelled by Nicole Yniguez for three batters, two of which reached base.

With a run in for Huntington Beach (18-9), Marzolino re-entered as the pitcher to face Anna Kufta. The Oilers catcher hammered a double to left, scoring Allee Bunker. Callie Saccacio ran hard into third, and when the throw into Becca Perez was dropped, she broke for home.

Perez collected the ball and fired a missile to the plate to stop the tying run from scoring.

“My concern was how quickly we were going to get it in to (Perez),” Vanguards coach Steve Harrington said. “Once she gets the ball, she can just work magic with it.”

In the seventh, Horeczko (14-8) retired the first two batters before El Modena rallied.

Bre Cruz, Emma Lee and Caroline Rice each singled to make it 4-2. Marzolino brought in two more with a drive up the middle, and Molly Sturdivant capped the inning with a two-run homer.

The Vanguards finished with nine hits.

Marzolino finished 3 for 4 with three runs and four RBI, and Sturdivant went 2 for 3 with two RBI.

The Vanguards will host Los Osos on Thursday. Los Osos knocked off top-seeded Santiago of Corona, 3-2, Tuesday.

El Modena finished in a three-way tie with Canyon and Yorba Linda for the Crestview League title. Marzolino said the league battles prepared them for the playoffs.

“It was hard,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of competition and it got us ready for playoffs. It was exciting.”

Bunker went 1 for 2 with a run and RBI.

Also in Division 1:

Pacifica 9, Valencia of Valencia 0: The Mariners (22-6-1) pounded their way past the Vikings. Pacifica, the defending Division 1 champs, will be home for the quarterfinals on Thursday against Norco, which defeated Great Oak of Temecula, 3-2.

Pacifica defeated Norco, 6-0, in March.

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