Western High School stopped Kennedy’s bid to repeat as Southern Section softball champion with a four-run seventh inning en route to a 4-0 victory Tuesday in the 4-A semifinals at Cypress Arnold Park.
Western (26-5) will play Buena in the finals at 8 p.m. Friday at Mayfair Park in Lakewood.
Western freshman Dawn Fowler (14-4) pitched a five-hitter for her fourth consecutive shutout in the playoffs.
Kennedy (21-5) had not committed an error in the playoffs entering the game, but the Fighting Irish made eight errors, five in the decisive seventh inning.
Freshman first baseman Renee Gragnano committed three errors in the seventh, putting three runners on to start the inning before she was replaced by senior Gina Alcosar, who had been starting since midseason.
Alcosar missed practice Monday but Kennedy Coach Sue Hall said her decision to start Gragnano was based more on Alcosar’s weak hitting in the playoffs.
“I don’t know if it was a coaching error,” Hall said. “We compromised some defense for hopefully some offense. I stuck a freshman at first for a senior, and it hurt us.”
In the top of the seventh, Ivy Pinkerton’s grounder rolled under Gragnano’s glove for an error. Gragnano then fielded a Beth Queypo bunt and threw wildly to second, putting runners on first and second.
Wendi McDermott laid down another bunt. Gragnano fielded it but threw late to first, and the bases were loaded.
Cindy Brown then hit a ground ball that right fielder Jackie Duncan picked up in shallow right. Her throw to first was on target, but Alcosar, who had replaced Gragnano, dropped the ball for an error. Pinkerton and Queypo scored to give Western a 2-0 lead.
Misty Pinkerton then reached when third baseman Kris Vucurevic failed to make a play on Pinkerton’s infield hit, loading the bases.
Dena Petersen then singled to right, scoring McDermott and bringing up the top of the order.
Tania Sieks popped out to second for the first out. Then Collene Conahan grounded to shortstop Missi Gyde, who threw to catcher Stefanie Hill to force Brown out at the plate.
That brought up Western power-hitter Lisa Sciarrino, who had struck out in her previous three at-bats. Sciarrino grounded to Vucurevic at third, who attempted to throw Sciarrino out, but Alcosar dropped the ball and Misty Pinkerton scored.
Petersen tried to sneak home on the play but Alcosar recovered, throwing home for the final out.
“My feeling from the beginning of the game was we would come through sooner or later,” said Western Coach Debbie Harless.