Tologs go cold in season opener

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The chilly air wasn't the only thing that left the members of the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy softball team cold.

The Tologs had a difficult time swinging their bats in a season-opening 3-0 nonleague home loss to Alverno on Friday afternoon.

Alverno senior pitcher Michelle Escamilla struck out 13 and limited the Tologs to one hit. Flintridge Sacred Heart, which finished fourth in the Mission League, couldn't get first-year Coach Kirk Nishiyama a win in his debut.

The Tologs had a couple of opportunities, but Escamilla froze them at the plate.

“We are just really inexperienced, and we didn't seem to have any confidence at the plate,” said Nishiyama, who piloted the school's cross-country squad to an 11th-place finish in the CIF State Meet Division IV race at Woodward Park in Fresno last November. “It will come.

“We need to get better every day, especially once we get to league. We still have a lot of question marks, but we have a lot of time to play different people at different positions.”

One position where Nishiyama, who took over the program from Dennis Williams, won't need to alter is pitcher. He received a fine effort from junior right-hander Jessica Ferri, who finished with 15 strikeouts. Ferri recorded at least one strikeout in every inning except the first.

“I thought I pitched well,” said Ferri, who secured all-league second-team honors last season after she struck out a team-high 122. “Every pitch really matters, and location is the key.”

Ferri ran into trouble in the second inning, when the Jaguars recorded two runs on just one hit.

With one out, Barbara Parker launched a triple to left before scoring on a fielder's choice to make it 1-0. Alverno extended its lead to 2-0 on a ground out by Alyssa Avila.

“On the triple, I left a change up over the plate too much,” said Ferri, who allowed three hits.

Alverno added an insurance run in the sixth on a two-out single to right by Escamilla.

Flintridge Sacred Heart's best scoring opportunity came in the fourth. With runners on second and third with two outs, Escamilla struck out Sacred Heart left fielder Erin Scharre to end the brief threat.

“We've got to be able to put the ball in play,” said Nishiyama, whose team will next compete in the Duarte Tournament beginning today. “Jessica pitched well.”

Ferri had the lone hit for the Tologs, a two-out single in the sixth. Only four Flintridge Sacred Heart batters reached base safely.

It marked the second consecutive year that the Tologs fell to the Jaguars in the teams' season opener. Alverno handed Flintridge Sacred Heart a 7-2 home loss last season. Escamilla struck out 10 in that contest.

Alverno, which won a share of the Horizon League title last season, is a reigning Division VI semifinalist.

Flintridge Sacred Heart is looking to make it back to the CIF Division IV playoffs after making it for the first time as a Mission League squad in 2006.


?CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or charles.rich@latimes.com.

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