Mater Dei pitcher Gabby Sandoval, left, celebrates with teammates after beating Orange Lutheran, 2-1, on Friday.

Mater Dei pulls out win over No. 2 Orange Lutheran


Tuesday’s result was a hard one to stomach.

In addition to being Mater Dei’s fourth consecutive loss, the setback to Santa Margarita meant the Monarchs had stumbled out of the gate in what perennially is one of the county’s toughest softball races.

An 1-2 start in the Trinity League? That would be flirting with disaster.

With its back up against the wall Friday afternoon, No. 9 Mater Dei earned its biggest win of the season, coming from behind to top No. 2 Orange Lutheran, 2-1, at Thornton Park.

“It’s one of those things where all week we’ve been talking about just staying within our plan and making sure we do what we need to do,” Monarchs coach Tia Meza said. “It’s real easy to get caught up looking at numbers, but we just weren’t playing our ball. This is not a fluke. This is who Mater Dei is.”

Junior right-hander Gabby Sandoval got the win in the circle, throwing seven innings against a Lancers lineup that boasted seven players hitting above .400 entering Friday.

Sandoval scattered eight hits. She didn’t record a strikeout, but she made a habit of keeping the ball low in the zone and allowing the fielders behind her to do what they do best.

“I just had to hit my spots and be pumped to come out here and win,” the junior hurler said. “It was a relief to know that my defense was making some great plays.”

Orange Lutheran (20-2, 1-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first inning on an RBI single from Lauren Espalin. With sophomore Maddy Dwyer retiring nine of the first 10 batters she faced, the score remained the same going into the fourth.

Shortstop Neli Casaras-Maher led off the fourth for Mater Dei (14-7, 2-1) with a walk and advanced to third on Morganne Flores’ bloop single to right field. With runners on the corners and no outs, Priscilla Martinez hit a hard grounder to Desiree Buboi at second base, who proceeded to go home with the ball. Casaras-Maher beat the throw at the plate, tying the score with nobody out.

A sacrifice bunt moved Flores and Martinez into scoring position, setting up Samantha Zaccari’s RBI groundout to the right side of the infield.

The Lancers were unable to get a runner into scoring position over the final three innings.

“Every league game is a must-win, but especially after dropping the one to Santa Margarita,” Meza said.

In the Golden West League:

Loara 1, Ocean View 0: Freshman Yolanda Oregel drove in the game’s lone run with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning, and the Saxons threw out two Seahawks players at the plate in the seventh.

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