By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
Behind a stout defense, timely hitting and another gritty pitching performance by Kaylee Carlson, Pacifica’s softball team defeated Yorba Linda High 5-1 at the Mariner diamond Thursday afternoon for a fifth straight Empire League title.
The Mariners, who improved their record to 24-5 overall and 11-1 in league, advance to the CIF Division I playoffs next week. Pairings will be announced Sunday.
Carlson (16-0) yielded just one run on eight hits, struck out four batters and walked two. At the plate, the M’s were led by Nicole DeWitt with three hits, Rebecca Lee with two hits and three RBIs and Faith Canfield, with two hits and two runs scored.
“It feels great,” said Mariner head coach Mark Campbell. “To beat a team like this three times is really something.” Pacifica is the only team to defeat Yorba Linda (21-3 overall, 10-2 in league) all season.
Carlson was solid but not overpowering, but Campbell said that was to be expected. “When teams play each other three times,” he said, “the batters start to gain an advantage. That’s where your defense becomes more important.”
That was indeed the case. After the Mariners scored four runs in the bottom of the third, it appeared they had the game well in hand. But the Mustangs rallied in the late going.
The visitors had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the sixth, but two sterling plays by first baseman Lee – including a leaping grab of a line drive – snuffed out the threat.
Yorba Linda was able to push across one run in the top of the seventh, but a clutch play by the Mariner shortstop at third ended the Mustangs’ late gasp.
With the league season behind, how far can the Mariners go?
“We’re ready for CIF,” said Carlson, “but Division I, that’s very tough. Look at Los Alamitos, that’s a great program. They’re struggling to finish third or fourth in their [Sunset] league, and you wouldn’t want to play them.”
In other softball results from Thursday, Loara defeated Westminster 13-2 in the Golden West League and Los Amigos edged La Quinta 2-1 in the Garden Grove League.
Baseball action in the Garden Grove League had GGL champion Garden Grove beat Bolsa Grande 9-1. In the Golden West League, Orange blanked Santa Ana 3-0 and Westminster won 9-2 over Segerstrom.
Pacifica lost 8-2 to Yorba Linda to finish second in the Empire League. A win would have tied the Mariners, defending EL and CIF champs, for first with Cypress.