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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
HUNTINGTON BEACH-After going a combined 1-10-1 in the San Clemente Memorial Day Tournament, the four Cerritos Girls Softball Association all-star teams turned it around a bit last weekend in the South Huntington Beach Surf City Classic. Two of the four teams, the 10-Under and 14-Under squads each won a pair of games, including one each in the playoffs.
The 14-Under All-Stars, managed by Carlos Acosta, was feeding off its solid performance from the previous week and got off to a good start by knocking off Walnut 6-1 last Saturday morning at the Huntington Beach Sports Complex.
“The team was tighter [this week] than it was last week,” Acosta said. “Last week was the first time having our team together playing in competition. Hitting was coming around a lot today, too.”
Cerritos grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when first baseman Dy’Mond Larkin-Manzo was walked and eventually came home when third baseman Alexa Diaz was safe on an error. She would then score on a groundout from pitcher Caitlyn Azevedo.
Walnut’s lone run came in the top of the second but after that, Azevedo, who just finished her freshman season at Valley Christian High, retired 11 of the last 13 batters she faced. Meanwhile, Cerritos would score twice in the fourth and fifth innings. Cerritos would collect four hits but was helped with five errors and three walks. Later in the day, Cerritos couldn’t hold onto a 2-0 lead against Los Altos and finished in a 2-2 tie.
Just like the game against Walnut, Larkin-Manzo was walked to lead off the top of the first and came home on a single from Azevedo. In the next inning, left fielder Isabella Gonzalez reached on an infield single, went to second on an error and scored on a groundout from center fielder Natalie Samano.
While Cerritos was limited to three hits, Azevedo was running into trouble in the bottom of the second, facing seven batters, loading the bases and throwing 37 pitches in the frame. But Los Altos could only get one run out of it, a bases-loaded single from Megan Keech that scored Sabrina Morris.
“You have to give Los Altos credit,” Acosta said. “They were fouling off her screw, fouling off her curve, fouling off her rise. That’s the reason why her pitch count was going up so high with certain batters. But to still come out with only one run after having the bases loaded…that’s Caitlyn for you. She’s a total workhorse.”
Los Altos tied the game in the next inning when Daylin Hardwick singled and came home on a wild pitch. Again, Azevedo loaded the bases but with one out, got Abbey Dawson to sharply line out to Samano, who threw to second baseman Chelsea Azevedo who doubled up Morris to end the inning.
Cerritos would defeat Temecula Valley 18-0 in the first round of the playoffs this past Sunday before falling to Torrance 15-2.
“I think I have eight players set for now,” Acosta said. “It’s just that ninth player I’m looking for. That’s why I’m switching players around still.”
The 10-Under All-Stars bounced back from a poor performance the previous week where they were outscored 21-5 in three games and after losing to Cypress 5-1 in the first game last Friday night, got in the win column with a dominating 6-0 victory against Temecula Valley.
“They came together today as a team ready to play,” said manager Anthony Medina. “The energy was there from the beginning and that’s one thing I’m trying to instill in these girls. We’re trying to keep the chemistry going and have them play at a high level. They came out today and did their job. They hit the ball well, they executed when they were supposed to and everybody did their part. They won as a team.”
The team wasted no time getting their offense going as catcher Natalia Hill launched a home run on the game’s second pitch. That was followed by a single from pitcher Alea Medina, who stole second and third and came home on a groundout from first baseman Kylee Manibusan. In the next inning, center fielder Vanessa Soto was hit by a pitch and stole second. Left fielder Pressley Hendrix then was safe on a wild pitch after striking out and moved to second on an error, allowing Soto to make it 3-0. Two batters later, an infield single from third baseman Itzel Hernandez plated Hendrix.
Cerritos iced the game in the third inning when Alea Medina and Manibusan each singled. Second baseman Luna Villa grounded back to the pitcher for a run batted in and, followed by a base hit from Kayleigh Sutton. Part of the reason for the win can be attributed the shifting and inserting of a few players here and there by Anthony Medina.
“We take these tournaments not necessarily to win, but to prepare for Districts,” Medina said. “So, we try moving girls and that’s the way we figure out who we have to play where and then keep that team going and playing together.”
In the circle, Alea Medina was solid, facing 14 batters, allowing three hits, striking out three and walking one. Two runners reached second base and she was backed by her defense, which turned a double play in the first and had a runner get caught stealing in the third.
“She did a wonderful job,” Anthony Medina said. “All the pitches I called, she hit her spots. We kept everything to a minimal. That’s pretty much her doing her job; hitting her spots. But not only that, it also takes a good defense behind her.”
The team would also defeat Eastvale 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Torrance 3-1 in the second round. Just two tournaments in, Anthony Medina believes his team can do some damage in the next two tournaments before heading into Districts where the top four teams in each age group advance to the state tournament.
“I believe so,” Medina said. “I believe if they keep working the way they have and if the pitching is still doing a great job, I think we can [do some damage]. I knew from the beginning we had a good group of girls with a lot of talent. So, it’s just trying to work with that talent and finding strong points with it.”
Also in the South Huntington Beach Surf City Classic, the 8-Under All-Stars lost to South Huntington Beach 2-1 and Rancho Penasquitos 3-2 in pool play action before picking up their win of the summer, a 3-2 victory over Rialto. The squad then fell to Torrance by that same score.
The 12-Under All-Stars tied South Huntington Beach 6-6, then fell to Torrance 11-0 and Cypress 10-2. All four teams will participate in the La Habra Field of Dreams Tournament which begins tonight.