No tears this time for La Habra
LA HABRA - La Habra's softball team hasn't been to the CIF-SS semifinals in quite some time, but it is headed back there after defeating Dos Pueblos of Goleta, 2-1, on Thursday in a Division 4 quarterfinal game at La Habra.
The Highlanders (23-8) will play the winner of Friday's Kaiser-Valley Christian quarterfinal game in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Highlanders coach Frank McCarroll was excited for his team, which lost in the quarterfinals last year.
"Last year we were coming home in tears from La Quinta after losing 2-1 on an error," he said, "and now we get to prepare for Tuesday. It's just a great problem to have."
The game was a pitching duel for the first three innings, but the Highlanders (23-8) finally got to Chargers starter Hannah Harris in the fourth.
After Harris struck out the first batter, she walked hard-hitting shortstop Maleena Esparza and then gave up a deep double to the left-field gap by Shanin Thomas, driving in Esparza. Next up was Raquel Manzo, who hit a single that scored Thomas easily from second, giving the Highlanders a 2-0 lead.
Highlanders starting pitcher Vanessa Ciocatto had a shutout for the first five innings. The Chargers (25-4) had runners on second base in the first two innings, but Ciocatto shut down both threats with strikeouts.
Her only blunder came in the top of the sixth as she allowed a lead-off home run by Kai Uyesaka. After the solo homer, Ciocatto gave way to Taylor Pierce.
Pierce, who hasn't pitched much this season because of an injury, looked sharp in the final two innings, allowing only one base runner. She kept the Chargers off balance with her high heat and earned the save.
McCarroll liked the way the middle of the Highlanders' order has been coming through for his club.
"The middle of the order came up big for us like they have been doing for the last month when we things really matter," he said.