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Mission Viejo wins title behind McQuillin no-hitter
GARDEN GROVE - The moment Taylor McQuillin tossed the final strike into Kayleen Shafer’s mitt Saturday afternoon, the Mission Viejo ace was oblivious to her feat.
“I didn’t even know I threw a no-hitter until well after the game,” the reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year said. “It’s not something I pay attention to.”
Opposing batters surely noticed.
McQuillin tossed seven hitless innings, striking out nine Pacifica batters and walking four, to push the top-ranked Diablos past the No. 5 Mariners, 2-0, in the Best of the West Tournament final at Pacifica High.
“The girls prepared. They worked hard, and they just battled,” said Mission Viejo coach Troy Ybarra, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the state by CalHi Sports. “These are all good games, and they can all go any way. Taylor has just being doing a great job.”
McQuillin has thrown eight career no-hitters, two perfect games and 52 shutouts in her high school career. Saturday’s shutout was her ninth of the season.
The Arizona-bound pitcher escaped jams in the fifth and sixth to shut down Pacifica. She excelled at working the corners for most of the afternoon and sat down the first seven batters she faced, while striking out the side in the second inning.
“I think I started off strong, got ahead of the counts in the beginning and had great defense behind me,” McQuillin said. “Pacifica’s a good hitting team, so you have to work the corners. You can’t leave anything over the plate.”
Earlier in the day, Mission Viejo (10-0) defeated Saugus, 1-0, in the semifinals behind a 14-strikeout effort from McQuillin.
Mission Viejo, which last week won the prestigious Tournament of Champions in Arizona, has allowed just six runs this season.
The Diablos only managed four hits offensively against Pacifica, but pushed across a pair of runs with timely, two-out hitting.
In the top of the fourth, Shafer slapped a two-out single to left field, which scored courtesy runner Devon Beach to give Mission Viejo a 1-0 lead. The Diablos tacked on another run in the seventh when Bella Loya blooped a double down the left field line, past Pacifica’s outstretched outfielder, to score Samantha Dees.
The Mariners (5-4), which defeated Norco, 6-0, in the semifinals, managed to move three runners into scoring position.
After coaxing two walks in the fifth, Pacifica pushed a pair of runners to second and third with two outs. But McQuillin, working on a 2-2 count, forced Marissa Mendez into an inning-ending ground out to the shortstop. She left another runner stranded at second in the sixth.
“We had bases loaded twice against Saugus, and she worked out of those, too.” Ybarra said. “We have so much confidence in her to pitch around a batter or two, if need be. She’s proven she can succeed.”