NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Only two players on the 14-girl Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy softball roster had experience competing in a CIF postseason game.
A lack of playoff experience didn’t matter for Tologs junior catcher Meghan Luera, though, as she brushed aside her initial moments of nervousness to ignite her squad when needed most.
Luera had two hits and drove in two runs Tuesday afternoon to help Flintridge Sacred Heart register a 6-0 win against visiting Arroyo Grande in a CIF Southern Section Division III wild-card game at the Glendale Sports Complex.
Flintridge Sacred Heart (19-5) will next meet second-seeded Oaks Christian (24-4-1) in a first-round road game at 3:15 p.m. Thursday.
Luera didn’t waste any time, as she delivered a run-scoring single in the bottom of the first inning to give the Tologs a 1-0 lead.
“I was really nervous before the game because it’s my first playoff game and I didn’t know anything about Arroyo Grande,” said Luera, who had a run-scoring double to extend the Tologs’ lead to 4-0 in the third. “Now, I can say it’s everything I thought it would be.
“With my first hit, I knew I had to drive in the run and get us a quick lead. The second hit just helped us secure the win.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart senior starting pitcher Jessica Ferri (19-5) excelled in the circle. Ferri, a reigning All-Area first-team member, struck out 15 and limited Arroyo Grande (10-14-1) to one hit, while going the distance. She’s struck out 254 this season.
Flintridge Sacred Heart second-year Coach Kirk Nishiyama said the Tologs, who finished tied for second in the Mission League with Chaminade, overcame some rough spots throughout parts of the game to quell the Eagles.
“I thought we played well for three innings,” said Nishiyama, whose team finished with seven hits. “We let our foot off the accelerator a little.
“Luera has come through for us all year. Her first hit got us going, and then she had another clutch hit with the double.”
The Tologs, who were their league’s third seed, batted around in the third en route to putting the game out of reach. Paige Conti, Alanna Pires, Luera and Mary Knauf each drove in a run.
Arroyo Grande, which finished fourth in the PAC-7 League, got its lone hit on an infield single by Sydney Gouvia in the fourth. The Harvard University-bound Ferri, a right-hander, retired the first 11 batters she faced. She struck out at least two in each inning and had enough energy on a warm afternoon to strike out the side in the seventh.
Ferri, Conti, Pires, Knauf and Lauren Torres had hits.
Luera said the Tologs will need to be sharper in all facets of their game against Oaks Christian, which captured the Tri-Valley League championship.
“We are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game,” Luera said. “We are going to have to be focused for all seven innings.”
CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.