Pioneers taken out by No. 1

Jeff Tully

Earlier this season, the Providence High softball team was ranked No.

1 in CIF Southern Section Division VI.

However, some struggles during Liberty League play knocked the


Pioneers out of the top 10.

In a first-round playoff game Friday, Providence took on the top

team in the division, and the result wasn’t good for the locals.

With some of its players missing because of prom, visiting


Providence was defeated by Capistrano Saddleback Valley Christian,

9-0, to end the Pioneers’ season.

Providence Athletic Director Andrew Bencze said athletes who

compete in sports at the school are normally required to attend all

of their team’s games during the season. However, an exception was

made so the softball players could attend the prom Friday night.

“The prom is one of those special occasions for the players,” said

Bencze, who added the school also makes exceptions for players taking


academic tests and going on sponsored religious retreats. “The prom

is a once-in-a- lifetime thing, and we can’t keep them from going if

they want to.”

Against the Warriors (21-1), the Pioneers had only 12 of their 18

athletes, with senior utility players Candice Koeth and Shannon Hayes

the key starters who missed the game because of prom.

Saddleback Valley Christian -- which captured the San Joaquin

League championship -- collected 10 hits and scored a run in the


first inning, two in the fourth and five in the fifth to take a big


Pioneer pitchers Lauren Suedkamp and Monica Valdes had trouble

silencing the Saddleback Valley Christian hitters, as they came into

the game with a .401 team batting average.

The Pioneers’ best chance to score came in the fourth inning, when

Ashlei Limbaga tripled. However, she was doubled off base and

Providence couldn’t mount a threat after that.

The only other Pioneer hit came from Liz Roche, who singled in the

sixth inning.

The team was also hampered by four errors.

It was the second-straight season Providence (15-7) has been

knocked out of the playoffs in its second postseason contest. In 2002

-- when Providence won the Liberty League championship -- the

Pioneers were defeated by Ontario Christian, 13-1, in a Division V

second-round game at Olive Park.

It was the first time in six years the team made it past the first


Providence came into the playoffs after finishing third in league

this season.

The Warriors’ only loss this season came March 15, when they lost

to Downey Calvary Chapel, 10-5, in the Arrowhead Christian

Tournament. It was the team’s first game of the season.

Providence 12, San Gabriel Mission 9: Coming away with a win is

all Providence High softball Coach Maggie Boozel expected of her


Although the Pioneers didn’t turn in a dominating effort, they did

make their coach proud.

Battling back from a one-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth

inning, Providence defeated visiting San Gabriel Mission Wednesday in

a CIF Southern Section Division VI wild-card game at Olive Park.

The teams met in the CIF playoffs last year, with Providence

winning, 3-0, on a no-hitter by Pioneer pitcher Candice Koeth.

“Our bats were definitely alive today,” Boozel. said of her team,

which had 10 hits.

Providence -- the third-place team from the Liberty League --

jumped to an early lead in the first inning by scoring five runs,

thanks to four walks and four hits. The hits were turned in by Lauren

Suedkamp, Stefanie Cowan, Tania Aziz and Shannon Hayes.

San Gabriel Mission (9-12), which finished third in the Horizon

League, fought back and led, 9-8, going into the bottom of the sixth

inning. However, Providence scored four times in the inning to take

back the lead.

Lead-off hitter Danielle Austin got the Providence rally started

by doubling to right field. Koeth, Cowan and Blair also singled in

the inning, with Cowan’s two-run hit scoring Monica Valdes and Ashlei


“Our girls made some miscues, but overall we played really good

defense” Providence assistant coach Jay Creps said.

“Our center fielder [Limbaga] has played maybe two or three games

all year, and she did a terrific job.”

Providence also welcomed the return of Austin, its freshman

starting catcher, who had been out of action the past two weeks with

a fractured nose.

Creps also praised Hayes, who has been Providence’s

jack-of-all-trades and played left field Wednesday.

“We’ve put Shannon Hayes at every position and she always does a

great job,” Creps said.

Suedkamp, Providence’s starting pitcher, improved to 9-5.

Valdes, who came on in relief, picked up her fourth save.

Jim Riggio