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Ocean View softball shocks Western Christian on four-base error in CIF Division 5 final

Ocean View sophomore Emma Craft, third from left, is mobbed by teammates after she scores the go-ahead run.
Ocean View sophomore Emma Craft, third from left, is mobbed by teammates after she scores the go-ahead run on a bunt that led to a four-base throwing error during the seventh inning against Upland Western Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine on Friday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The consummate pitchers duel was in full swing on Friday afternoon.

When such a game is in effect, the slightest opening can make the difference, and that is exactly how it played out.

Ocean View pushed two runs across in its last at-bat to stun top-seeded Upland Western Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 softball championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium.

The game flipped on a play that had to be seen to be believed. Catcher Nivea Armenta doubled to center to lead off the top of the seventh, and she was replaced by McKenna Coble as the courtesy runner.

Ocean View senior Nivea Armenta (13) cheers after she hit a double during the seventh inning against Western Christian.
Ocean View senior Nivea Armenta (13) cheers after she hit a double during the seventh inning against Upland Western Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine on Friday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Two batters later, the Seahawks still had Coble at second base with one out when Emma Craft laid down a bunt that sat right in front of the plate. The ball was picked up by Brooklyn Lee, who fired the ball to first.

The throw could not be handled at the bag, and it sailed deep into the corner down the right-field line. Coble scored easily, and Ocean View coach Jose Smith also sent Craft home, circling the bases on a four-base throwing error.

“I was circling the bases,” Craft said. “I saw that the throw was long gone in the outfield, and I was going through these bases. I saw Jose’s arms circling, making me go home, and it was a lot of joy going on.”

There was a discussion among the umpires as to whether the ball hit Craft’s bat twice on the bunt attempt, but the initial ruling on the play stood.

The Ocean View softball team poses with the championship plaque after defeating Upland Western Christian.
The Ocean View softball team poses with the championship plaque after defeating Upland Western Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine on Friday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Ocean View (17-10) had just two hits for the game, and Smith gave credit to Armenta for giving the Seahawks a fighting chance in the seventh. She had struck out swinging in her previous two plate appearances.

“Our catcher is our best offensive player,” Smith said of Armenta. “I haven’t seen her strike out twice in a game. I can’t remember the last time she struck out, but I knew it was going to happen … Our catcher, she’s clutch. She gets ahold of that ball, and you see what happens.”

The Seahawks nearly lost their runner in scoring position to start the inning. The very next batter following the Armenta double was Ashley Capelouto, who lifted a deep fly ball that left fielder Audrey Flower-Pacheco made a fine catch on as she retreated toward the line. Coble was way off the bag and had to sprint to get back and tag up as the throw came in toward second.

Working with a lead for the first time in the game, Seahawks ace Desyree Arizmendi had to work out of a jam to secure the win. Chandler Kerr started the bottom of the seventh for Western Christian (19-2) with a double. After an intentional walk and a sacrifice-bunt, the Seahawks opted to put Jazlynn Rosales on to load the bases with one out.

Ocean View senior Desyree Arizmendi pitches during the first inning against Upland Western Christian.
Ocean View senior Desyree Arizmendi pitches during the first inning against Upland Western Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine on Friday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Arizmendi then struck out Flower-Pacheco and produced an infield pop-up off the bat of Jamille Abdallah to end the game.

Ocean View fell behind in the fifth. The Lancers scored in the inning without a hit, as two errors by second baseman Sienna Erskine allowed Kerr to score a two-out run. Arizmendi knew how crucial one run could be in the final.

“I gave myself one second to, in a sense, feel sorry for myself in the fact that the run was scored, but once that second was gone, my mindset changed, and I was like, ‘OK, now it’s not an even battle. Now, we have to fight back,’” Arizmendi said. “As our coach and Nivea told the team, she said, ‘Get mad. Get even.’”

Erskine did have five putouts earlier in the game, including a soft lineout she turned into a double play in the first.

Ocean View freshman Sienna Erskine makes the catch before throwing to first base to complete a double play.
Ocean View freshman Sienna Erskine makes the catch before throwing to first base to complete a double play during the first inning against Upland Western Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine on Friday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Arizmendi allowed an unearned run and three hits in a complete game. The University of La Verne-bound senior struck out six.

Her counterpart in the circle, Amelia Weber, gave up just the two unearned runs on two hits and struck out six.

Ocean View won its third CIF title as a program and its first since 2008. Western Christian had been seeking its second section championship in the last three seasons.

“Afterwards, I talked to my team. [In] 2019, we were on the opposite side of this,” Western Christian coach Edward Wood said. “This year, we’re on this side of it, and you know, we don’t like this side, so I told them to take it all in, remember this moment, and let’s use that to fuel us for the next years coming up. Hopefully, we have the opportunity to get back here again.”

Ocean View sophomore Emma Craft sprints for first base after a bunt during the seventh inning against Western Christian.
Ocean View sophomore Emma Craft sprints for first base after a bunt during the seventh inning against Upland Western Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine on Friday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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