Los Amigos softball stunned in late innings by A.B. Miller

Los Amigos' Sophia Gutierrez pitches against A.B. Miller in the second round of playoffs.
Los Amigos’ Sophia Gutierrez pitches against A.B. Miller in the second round of the CIF Southern Division 7 softball playoffs on Tuesday.
(James Carbone)

Los Amigos appeared bound for its second consecutive quarterfinals appearance in the CIF Southern Section softball playoffs, but late leads evaporated twice for the Lobos.

Fontana A.B. Miller rallied for two runs in the sixth and seventh innings, shocking host Los Amigos 4-3 on Tuesday in a chaotic second-round game of the Division 7 bracket.

The Lobos committed four of their six errors in the final two innings, giving way to the unraveling of what had been a shutdown start to the postseason for freshman pitcher Sophia Gutierrez.

Los Amigos' Leah Lemusu (29) is all smiles after scoring the first run of the game against A.B. Miller on Tuesday.
(James Carbone)

“We had a couple of base-running blunders that kept us from building on that lead,” Los Amigos coach Jeff Holley said. “We did get one [run] in the bottom of the sixth, and it looked like that would be enough again. Just too many breakdowns in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings that just killed us.”

Gutierrez, who threw a no-hitter for a 1-0 win over Panorama City St. Genevieve in the first round, recorded nine of her 10 strikeouts in the first five innings against Miller (15-6).

Miller pushed a run across with singles from Mia Torres and Savana Silva in the sixth. With Gutierrez dealing to the bottom of the order, Liliana Miramontes laid down a bunt, and a throwing error from the Lobos right-hander brought in the tying run.

Los Amigos softball coach Jeff Holley talks with his team against A.B. Miller on Tuesday.
(James Carbone)

Los Amigos (14-7) had an answer. Shortstop Valerie Villa, the only senior on the team, singled with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Gutierrez followed with a double to right-center field. Catcher Alina Mendez then singled up the middle to drive in one run, but Gutierrez was caught in a rundown between third base and home, limiting the damage.

Gutierrez struck out Erika Santana leading off the seventh, then issued a walk to Katrina Sevilla. In need of an equalizer, Sevilla took off for second and stole the base. The throw went into center field, and Leah Lemusu’s throw toward third could not be corralled, allowing the tying run to score without a hit.

After the second out of the inning was recorded, Torres reached on an infield hit. She advanced to second on a passed ball, and Miller pitcher Elyse Taylor laced a lined shot into right for the go-ahead run.

Miller players were simply giddy after that, several of them hopping to a huddle at the circle when their coach, April Marshall, emerged from the dugout to address her team with one out between them and a trip to the quarterfinals.

Los Amigos' Ingrid Alvarado (21) swings for a hit against A.B. Miller on Tuesday.
(James Carbone)

“I just wanted to talk to them, just to let them know, ‘Hey, we got this,’” Marshall said. “When I went over there, they’re like, ‘We’re good, Ms. Marshall. We’re in the groove. Let us go.’ … They did great.”

Los Amigos had led from the start, Lemusu and Maria Castillo each coming around to score in the first inning after reaching on infield errors. Gutierrez had a run-scoring single in the frame.

Los Amigos' Yvonne Gonzalez (9) fields the ball at third base against A.B. Miller on Tuesday.
(James Carbone)

From a big picture perspective, the Lobos continue to see improvement as a program. Los Amigos went winless in Garden Grove League play in 2021 and 2022. The Lobos finished fourth in league at 4-6 a season ago, and this spring, they placed second at 8-2, behind only Santiago.

“I told them, ‘Hopefully, this hurts. Hopefully, this just is a knot in your stomach, but when that pain goes away, I want you to realize how great a season we really had and how much improvement we made,’” Holley said. “... We just keep getting better. We’re on the right track.”

Los Amigos' Valerie Villa (48) makes it to third base against A.B. Miller in the second round of the CIF Division 7 playoffs.
Los Amigos’ Valerie Villa (48) makes it to third base against A.B. Miller in the second round of the CIF Division 7 playoffs on Tuesday.
(James Carbone)

Also in the CIF Southern Section softball playoffs:

Huntington Beach 4, Riverside Poly 0: Zoe Prystajko struck out eight in a five-hit shutout for the visiting Oilers on Tuesday in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs.

Shortstop Liah Lummus and Prystajko each homered for Huntington Beach (18-7), which plays host to Southwestern League champion Murrieta Mesa (24-3) in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Murrieta Mesa edged Huntington Beach 12-11 in the quarterfinals last season.

Left fielder Cali Bennett had three hits and a run scored. Right fielder Maleah Humble had two hits and a run scored. First baseman Tea Gutierrez provided two hits, including a double, and a run batted in.