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Costa Mesa’s playoff run ends with loss at Mission

Costa Mesa’s playoff run ends with loss at Mission
Valerie Castro, shown sliding into third base on April 9, had a double for Costa Mesa High during a 6-3 loss at San Gabriel Mission in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs on Thursday. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

After Costa Mesa High's softball team won via the mercy rule in the first two rounds of the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs, the Mustangs finally played a full game on Thursday.

Going seven innings didn't amount to more offense for Costa Mesa.

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San Gabriel Mission slowed down the visiting Mustangs, beating them 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

Mission held a good-hitting Costa Mesa team to six hits. The Mustangs opened the postseason with an 18-6 win over El Segundo Da Vinci Design in five innings last week, then it routed Inglewood St. Mary's Academy 18-1 in five innings in the second round on Tuesday.

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"I thought our team's effort was really good," Costa Mesa coach Doug Deats said, "but Mission played a good game. I hope they do well in the rest of the playoffs."

Mission (17-5) advanced to the semifinals and will play No. 2-seeded Los Angeles Archer (19-4), which defeated Big Bear 3-1 in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

While Costa Mesa (20-9) loses seven seniors, it will have 12 players coming back next year.

"We will have both pitchers [Haley Wolf and Alexis Litvak] and shortstop Katie Belmontes coming back, which bodes well for us," Deats said. "We really missed not having Haley Wolf in the lineup for the playoffs. She has been injured and has been our number one pitcher and bats cleanup for us."

Litvak, a freshman, got the start for the Mustangs and was staked to a 2-0 lead early before the Pioneers scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning and never looked back.

In the first inning, Costa Mesa right fielder Valerie Castro singled with two outs, stole second and scored on a single by second baseman Hailie Salyer. In the second inning, Costa Mesa left fielder Meliza Hernandez got on base by a two-base error and trotted home on a single by Litvak.

That was the end of scoring until the sixth inning when Belmontes and Castro hit back-to-back doubles for Costa Mesa's final run.

Costa Mesa senior catcher Haley Sheffner finished her career with a double.

Mission senior pitcher Valerie Royster was impressive as she moved her record to 16-4. She struck out three.

The Pioneers collected nine hits with catcher Christina Rosas and left fielder Kynnedie Schweitzer each getting a pair.

Mission coach Alfred Rosales was pleased with the win and with the season so far.

The school has only 250 students and its girls' soccer team won the CIF Southern California Regional Division V title on March 10.

"We have five players on the softball team that were on the soccer team and we had to start the season without them, so we have had a pretty good run," Rosales said. "I think this is the most wins we have had in a season."

DAVE DANIEL is a contributor to Times Community News.

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