El Modena players motivate each other at the pitchers mound in their last inning against Norco Saturday during their Best in the West Tournament at Los Alamitos High School.

El Modena sweeps two of state's top teams


El Modena softball coach Steve Harrington likes to say he is "cautiously optimistic" heading into each season.

Harrington had every reason to be optimistic after watching his Vanguards knock off Saugus, 4-0, and Norco, 2-1, to advance to the semifinals of the first Best of the West Invitational on Saturday at Los Alamitos High.

"I really believe that some changes that occurred over the offseason have allowed us to be very successful, very cohesive," Harrington said. "I think that cohesion will take us to where we would like to go.

"There's no All-Americans out here. It's just a bunch of good kids that want to work hard."

The Vanguards got some timely hitting to put two runs on the scoreboard in the top of the third. Hannah Zedek got a one-out single, Emma Lee got a two-out single and Molly Sturdivant walked to load up the bases. Sophomore Megan McCune delivered a two-run single to make it 2-0.

McCune shut out Norco's fearsome lineup on two hits for five innings.

Norco, the defending CIF-SS Division 1 champion, is ranked No. 2 in the state and Saugus is No. 16 in the state in Cal-Hi Sports preseason poll.

Norco wasn't the only state-ranked team to fall on Day 1 of the tournament. Moorpark defeated top-ranked Pacifica, 1-0, and Great Oak of Temecula beat No. 6 Edison, 5-3, in first-round games. Great Oak also knocked off No. 18 Mater Dei, 3-2, and No. 14 Mission Viejo defeated No. 8 Los Alamitos, 10-2, in quarterfinal games.

The Best of the West semifinals and finals are set for March 16 at Pacifica High. Canyon faces Great Oak and Mission Viejo takes on El Modena.

In the Cypress Tournament:

Cypress 2, Esperanza 1: Inessa Lopez's two-run double in the bottom of the seventh helped the host Centurions (5-0) beat the Aztecs (4-1), ranked No. 4 in the state, in the championship game at Cypress High.

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