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Local all-stars contribute to East victory

VAN NUYS — While the area sent only four players to Tuesday afternoon’s eighth annual San Fernando Valley All-Star Softball Game, the local quartet certainly made an impact.

Bellarmine-Jefferson’s Monique Landini, Hoover High’s Kaitlyn Williams, Burbank High’s Katie Hooper and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s Sumner Hanula each made contributions for their team, the East, in its 5-3 victory over the West at Birmingham High.

“It was a real good experience for the local girls to come out and help our team win,” said Hooper, as the East won its second game in the last three years in pulling the overall series to within 4-3-1 in favor of the West. “It wasn’t just Burbank, but a lot of local girls made plays.”

Maybe the biggest offensive impact came from Landini, who’s heading to St. John’s this fall.

The East second baseman, who led Bellarmine-Jefferson to a CIF Southern Section Division VI title this past season, was two for three with a run scored.

Landini helped her side gain some valuable insurance in the bottom of the eighth inning with the East holding a precarious 3-2 lead.

The senior singled on the heels off a walk to teammate Kylie Sorenson of West Ranch to lead off the eighth, which put runners on first and second with no outs.

Landini’s single was the first of a trio of consecutive hits for the East, which loaded the bases with a single from Kristina Brackpool of Valencia.

That hit preceded a big two-run single from Harvard-Westlake’s Chloe Pendergast that extended the East’s advantage to 5-2.

The West kept its hopes of a comeback alive by limiting the East’s the damage to two runs. Then in the top of the ninth, the West cashed in part of the East’s insurance.

In that frame, East closer Pendergast allowed a leadoff single to Moorpark’s Madison Fleming, who eventually scored on a two-out fielding error.

Yet, Pendergast killed the West’s last stand when she induced a groundout to first to end the game.

“It was nice to get this win. For me, I just wanted to hit the ball and I was nervous,” Williams said. “I do good under pressure and it felt good to really hit that ball.”

Williams, who played shortstop for Hoover, but in the outfield on Tuesday, led an unlikely rally in the bottom of the second when she ripped a 1-0 fastball from Chaminade pitcher Courtney Sooy off the left-field wall for a double.

Williams’ double was followed by another two-bagger, this from Hart’s Sierra Quiala, that skipped off the glove of left fielder Madison Fleming of Moorpark just as the outfielder crashed into the wall in left.

The inability of Fleming, who made a great backpedaling snag to end a threat in the second, to make the difficult catch also afforded a chance for Hart’s Jena Coleman to bat.

Coleman took advantage of her opportunity and brought home her teammate, Quiala, with a run-scoring single to right that gave the East Side the game’s first advantage of 2-0.

“It felt good to get that rally going with a hit,” Williams said.

That lead grew to 3-0 in the third when Hanula led off with a walk and immediately scored on a first-pitch run-scoring double to right from Alemany’s Mariah Sandoval.

“I just went up there with a plan to get on base. A lot of people don’t take walks seriously [in all-star games],” Hanula said. “When the ball was hit and I saw it go over the outfielder’s head, I knew I had to get home really fast.”

To its credit, the West rallied with two runs, the first in the fourth inning when Kennedy’s Dani Estrada opened the inning with a double and scored on a ball-four wild pitch to Moorpark’s Rachael Farrington.

The following inning, the West scored again, this time when Moorpark’s Dani Brown knocked in Chaminade’s Brittany Solis with a single to bring the visitors within 3-2.

From the fifth inning on, the East’s outfield had a local feel as Williams took over in left, Hanula manned center and Hooper, who made a nice running catch in the ninth, was placed in right field.

Flintridge Sacred Heart’s Kelly Jacobs and Burroughs’ Brice Edrington were scheduled to play in the game, but did not attend.

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