Chavez helps Kennedy overpower Cypress, 16-8
LA PALMA — There is a row of storage bins about 25 feet beyond the fence in left-center at Kennedy High. Fighting Irish coach Sarah Mesa said no one on her team had hit those bins until Tuesday, when Kennedy and Cypress met for a softball game and a home run derby broke out.
The two teams combined for six home runs, with each school hitting three, but that’s about as even as it got. Two Kennedy bombs reached the bins as the Fighting Irish overcame an early deficit to pound Cypress, 16-8, in the Empire League game.
“I think we’re on the right path right now, as far as being prepared and our attitudes and swinging the bats,” Mesa said. “That’s what counts. You got to score runs. Our bats are coming alive at the right time. It’s contagious with us.”
The Fighting Irish’s Nicole Chavez hit two home runs, the first one a towering two-run shot in the third inning that landed on top of a bin before bouncing into a neighbor’s backyard. Chavez hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to make it 11-6.
“Chavez is on fire,” Mesa said. “Her swing is great right now.”
Catcher Brooke Smith extended the rout to 15-6 with a three-run home run in the fifth inning that hit the side of a bin. Kennedy collected 18 hits, with all but one starter getting at least a hit and a run. Shortstop Rose Saenz went 4 for 5 with two runs scored and five RBIs.
Kennedy (13-8, 8-2), which opened the season 2-5, has won six of seven to claim second place in the Empire League. With three games left, the team is unlikely to unseat top-ranked Pacifica, which is unbeaten in league. But the Fighting Irish are confident about their chances in the postseason.
“I think we’re ready,” said Mesa, who last year guided her team to the third round as the league’s fourth seed. “We had a slow start with injuries. Now everybody’s healthy. As long as we get our pitching to join our bats, I think we’re going to be tough in CIF.”
Cypress (13-8, 5-4), which starts just one senior, is in fourth place in league but also on track to earn a playoff berth under first-year coach Mike Hunter.
“We have three games left, we’re going to win all three of them, I believe,” Hunter said. “There’s no quit here. In CIF I think we can surprise a few people.”
The Centurions rallied from a 4-0 deficit with a pair of three-run home runs, first by shortstop Summer Penner in the second inning and then Inessa Lopez in the third. Allie Wood added a solo shot in the seventh inning.
“I don’t think I've ever been in a softball game with that many home runs,” Hunter said. “It’s definitely a hitter’s park here.”