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STEVEN GEORGES, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Paraclete's Kaytlynn Johnson throws to first for a double play after first tagging out Savanna's Celeste Rodriguez, right, during the CIF-SS Division 6 softball championship game at Bill Barber Park in Irvine.

Savanna enjoys start, but title game turns rough

STAFF WRITER

IRVINE - It seemed destined to be just two pitches into the ballgame.

Savanna shortstop Kristin Worley dropped down the perfect drag bunt to lead off, and she scampered around the base paths when the throw to first ended up by the right field pole. When she scored, the Savanna dugout and Rebels faithful in the stands went into a craze.

Slowly but surely, that energy faded as Paraclete pitcher Kailla Searcy began settling in, and the Spirits’ bats began producing in the clutch spots.

Searcy limited Savanna’s loaded lineup to just six hits on the afternoon and teammate Rylee Maston went 3 for 4 with four RBI as Paraclete of Lancaster denied Savanna’s bid for its first CIF-SS title with a 9-2 win in the Division 6 championship game at Bill Barber Park on Saturday.

“I saw a good-hitting team that put the ball in play and made things happen,” Rebels coach Mike Willey said. “I think we only had one strikeout on the entire day. We did not play perfect. We didn’t play how we needed to play in the championship game.”

Savanna finished the season with a 31-2 record, the loss to Paraclete ending a 21-game win streak.

Having scored 63 runs and tallying 59 hits in the first four rounds of the playoffs, the Rebels were held to a season-low two runs by Searcy.

“I was expecting a better hitting performance, but that was the best pitcher we saw all year,” Willey said. “We tried to make adjustments, we didn’t strike out that much, but it was really hard for us to figure out where that strike zone was and make the adjustments.”

While the Rebels struggled making solid contact, the Spirits had surprising success against Savanna ace Jezabelle Quintana. Paracelte scored its first five runs with two outs off of Quintana, who went 22/3 innings.

Maston’s two-run home run to left field highlighted a three-run second inning that gave the Spirits a lead it never relinquished.

The loss aside, there was plenty of optimism surrounding the Rebels after the game. Savanna will return all nine of its starters next season, and lose just two seniors to graduation.

“I think that’s the only thing you can do is treat it as a learning experience,” Willey added. “We’ve been saying as a team we’ve got to be one-percent better than the year before. Last year we were 26-3. This year we’re 31-2, and the two bites.

“So I say we just keep doing what we’re doing, and figure out a way to beat a team like that.”

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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