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Huntington Beach softball beats Esperanza to reach CIF Division 1 quarterfinals

In the past couple of years, the Huntington Beach High softball team has played in the Clovis Leadoff Classic as part of its schedule.

Oilers coach Jeff Forsberg said that part of the road trip is to introduce his team to a form of life not often seen in Southern California.

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The team has taken a dairy tour, which has included the milking of cows, each time it has made the trip up to Central California.

This March, the Oilers visited Rosa Brothers Milk Company. They enjoyed chocolate milk when they were there, and once they arrived at the tournament in Clovis, they continued to have a good time.

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The team was full of energy then, and it began the tournament with a pair of victories by double-digit margins. Several Oilers remarked that the chocolate milk was somehow responsible for the energy that they brought to those games.

Oilers assistant coach Ashleigh Hampton was listening.

Prior to Tuesday night’s game, Hampton went over to a store that stocked Rosa Brothers Milk Company chocolate milk and bought enough for the entire team to drink.

Whether there is any connection between the chocolate milk and strong showings by the Oilers’ offense remains a mystery, but they coincided with one another once again.

Katelyn Mangrello, Jadelyn Allchin and Grace Uribe each homered, and Huntington Beach defeated visiting Esperanza 9-5 in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

Huntington Beach High's Grace Uribe, right, is met by her teammates after hitting a home run in the sixth inning of a CIF Southern Section Division 1 second-round playoff game against Esperanza on Tuesday.
Huntington Beach High's Grace Uribe, right, is met by her teammates after hitting a home run in the sixth inning of a CIF Southern Section Division 1 second-round playoff game against Esperanza on Tuesday. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We had chocolate milk back in Fresno from a specific dairy farm,” Allchin said. “Rosa Brothers, shout out. One of our coaches brought it in the dugout, and we just kept downing it.

“I think it’s a piece that we remember that we [credited] with giving us more energy, so we had it back, and we’re all like, ‘Oh my god.’ We got really excited.”

The Oilers (17-8) appeared to be a loose group on the whole, dancing in the dugout and serenading their hitters in song. In return, the offense belted out 11 hits.

Mangrello had four runs batted in, including a three-run home run in the third inning to give Huntington Beach a 5-0 lead.

“It was really big,” Mangrello said of her homer. “I just wanted to get on base, and then I hit it over, and then I heard everyone screaming. I was kind of hyped to hear everyone backing me up.”

Huntington Beach snuck into the playoffs after finishing tied for third place in the Surf League. The Oilers needed an at-large bid to make the playoffs, but after upsetting No. 4-seeded Grand Terrace 3-2 in the first round and beating the Aztecs (19-9), Huntington Beach is back in the Division 1 quarterfinals for the second year in a row.

The Oilers will be on the road to face Chino Hills (28-4) in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Chino Hills beat Ventura Buena 15-1 in its second-round game.

“In our league, every day was a playoff game, and we’ve been in playoff mode since we played Los Al here in the first game of the league,” Forsberg said. “We got in, and we’re just going to keep playing and see what happens.”

Devyn Greer and Uribe each had two hits in the contest. Megan Ryono, Reanna Rudd, Ameryn Humble, Mikaela Carmen and Valerie Rudd had one hit apiece for Huntington Beach.

Uribe was briefly relieved after a leadoff single by Calissa Stapp in the seventh inning. When the next four batters reached base for Esperanza, the Oilers’ starter re-entered the pitching circle to finish the game.

In all, Uribe allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings of work. She struck out five and walked two.

The offense was much appreciated by Uribe.

“It’s fantastic,” Uribe said. “Just being able to pitch and not have the pressure that there usually is just is a little bit better.”

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