Barons’ ballpark can’t contain Makenzie Butt
Makenzie Butt clubbed a couple of home runs and Courtney Kols kept San Marino’s vibrant offense off balance, but the Fountain Valley High School softball team‘s quarterfinal victory Thursday afternoon was claimed in a wild sixth inning, aided by a controversial call.
The Barons (23-4-1) pushed across three runs in the bottom half of the sixth, and Kols worked out of trouble in the seventh to finish off a 5-2 home win that sent the top seed to Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division 5 semifinals. They’ll head to San Bernardino to face fourth-seeded Cajon (20-6), which beat fifth-ranked San Jacinto 3-0.
Second-seeded El Toro (19-9) visits La Cañada Flintridge Sacred Heart (19-8) in the other Division 5 game, and the title game will be played May 20 or 21.
Butt, a sophomore first baseman, hit her sixth and seventh homers of the season to provide one-run leads in the second and fourth innings, and Fountain Valley, which extended its winning streak to 15 games, got four of its eight hits in the sixth to take command in a tight battle.
“Great game right there. Great game, great team win ...,” said Rick Aldrich, who called this his best team in 13 years as Barons head coach. “My first year, I had a really good team, but they were nothing like this team. The thing that makes this team my best team and so special is they’re not selfish. They’re playing for each other. They want the win for the person next to them, not just for themselves.”
San Marino left-hander Claire Streeter made things tough on the Wave League champions, striking out 11 and surrendering just four hits in the first five innings, but the first two were belted by Butt, both as the lead-off hitter. There was no doubt about her first, which landed on the roof of the school band’s shack beyond the center-field fence, but the second, to right-center field, was a high fly that got some assistance from the wind.
“I kind of [knew the first was gone], but I want to make sure it goes out before I start celebrating,” Butt said. “I was kind of shocked for that [second one], but it helped my team, and that’s all that matters.”
Butt also homered twice in the first-round win over Barstow and is seven for nine with seven runs and six runs batted in in the postseason. She upped her batting average to .540, best among the Barons with at least 50 at-bats by more than one hundred percentage points, and her OPS to 1.526.
She was walked intentionally her third time at the plate, to load the bases in the fifth inning, and she said she was “kind of bummed” by the decision. Titans head coach Scott Edmonds said he would have walked Butt had the bases been loaded.
“I wasn’t going to let her beat me,” he said. “I learn from my mistakes.”
Veronica Moore went deep twice for the Barons in the second round against Arcadia Rio Hondo Prep.
San Marino (15-9) answered both homers — on back-to-back doubles by Katy Bell and Tiffany Pletting to start the third, and after, Kayla Giddings led off the sixth with another double and scored on Streeter’s single to center off Samantha Estrada’s glove.
Then things turned weird in the bottom of the inning. Estrada singled with one out, took second on a wild pitch and came home to make it 3-2 on pinch-hitter Andrea Maldonado’s squib shot past a diving Giddings, the second baseman. Delaney Mondino was called out for batters’ interference, and Marissa Sardinas then hit a high pop-up toward first base.
Bell, the Titans’ first baseman, misjudged the ball without touching it, and it spun off the dirt into the San Marino dugout. The home-plate umpire called it foul but was overruled by the two base umpires, and Sardinas was placed on second and Maldonado added a fourth run. Kira Velasco followed with a single to bring home Sardinas.
“The umps blew that call on the ball that rolled into the dugout. It was a foul ball ...,” Edmonds said. “One of the [base umpires], I was watching, didn’t see it, but they overruled [the foul call].
“But you know what, that’s sour grapes. They beat us and they’re a good team, and I have no problem losing to a good team. It is what it is. Sometimes, I get the breaks.”
San Marino got the tying run to the plate in the seventh — with a hit batter and a walk — but Kols ended the threat by getting Nadia Escobar to hit a little pop-up in front of the plate that catcher Brooke Bonny caught, then threw to first to get the runner racing toward second.
Kols, a freshman, used a drop-curve and screwball, primarily, as she scattered six hits while striking out five.
“I think it’s awesome [to reach the semifinals]. I can’t wait for Saturday,” Aldrich said. “If we do what we know we’re supposed to do and what we can do, then good things can happen for us.”
Also in the CIF Southern Section softball playoffs:
Northridge Heritage Christian 7, Newport Harbor 2: The Sailors lost on the road Thursday in a CIF Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinal game.
Amaris Villegas had two hits, including a home run, and two runs batted in to lead Heritage Christian (21-8), which advances to play at top-seeded Moorpark (22-4) in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Jackie Ordonez also had two hits and drove in two runs, and she scored a run for the Warriors.
Maia Helmar and Jianna Lopez each had a hit and a run batted in for Newport Harbor (17-6), which was the second-place team in the Wave League this season. Olivia Williams and Dru Stinson both had a hit and a run scored.
Staff writer Andrew Turner contributed to this report.
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