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Aliso Niguel softball strikes late to end Edison's playoff run

Edison High's softball season came to an end on Tuesday.

The Chargers battled in a pair of low-scoring contests in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs, but Aliso Niguel broke through late in the second round.

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Danielle Mandichak's two-run double in the top of the sixth inning proved to be the difference, as the visiting Wolverines edged the Chargers 2-1.

Edison (15-11) earned a 2-1 win at Cerritos to open the playoffs on Thursday, marking its first playoff victory under second-year coach Melissa Roth. Junior Serena Starks was among the players to win a playoff game for the first time in her career.

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"It's pretty awesome to have a win for CIF under our belts," Starks said. "We know that we can win CIF games, and hopefully we can go farther than we did this year."

Starks had three hits and a walk against the Wolverines (21-7). In the playoffs, she went six for seven with five stolen bases.

The Princeton-committed utility player came up to the plate with the tying run at third base and two outs in the seventh. Aliso Niguel pitcher Carley Brown issued a walk on four pitches, and Bella Espinoza hit a tapper back to Brown to end the game.

"She stepped it up the last half a season, and she has really led this team offensively," Roth said of Starks. "She's sparked the offense. She was the one you wanted up in that situation, and [Aliso Niguel] did a good job walking her and getting to the next batter."

The Chargers took a 1-0 lead right away. After a perfect first inning by Jenna Bloom, Starks led off the bottom half of the frame with an infield single. She scored on a sacrifice fly by Hailie Benko.

Bloom set down the first 11 batters she faced before Danielle Mandichak sent a single up the middle with two outs in the fourth. The junior recorded her seventh strikeout of the afternoon to retire the side.

Mandichak took advantage of an opportunity to do more-significant damage in the sixth. An infield hit by Carley Brown and a fielding error by Bloom put the go-ahead runs on base.

Then the right fielder split the outfielders in right-center field, bringing both runners home and knocking Bloom out of the game.

"I knew that [the pitch] was coming outside, so I just kept my hands through it and took it to right field," Mandichak said. "I knew that my team was down, so I needed to pick them up to get us fired up."

Bloom threw 5 1/3 innings of four-hit ball. She allowed two runs, one earned, and struck out 10.

Talia Hannappel retired all five hitters she faced in relief, and Bella Martinez had two hits.

Brown pitched a complete game to get the win. She allowed five hits and struck out three.

Aliso Niguel, the South Coast League champion, advanced to the quarterfinals. The Wolverines will play at Riverside Martin Luther King on Friday. The Wolves defeated South Torrance 8-5 in the second round on Tuesday.

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner

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