Ea­gles rally for CIF win

Imperial Valley Press - - SPORTS - BY KA­RINA LOPEZ Sports Ed­i­tor

EL CEN­TRO — The South­west High soft­ball team made a tri­umphant re­turn to the CIF-San Diego Sec­tion play­offs af­ter de­feat­ing El Cap­i­tan 4-1 on Thurs­day af­ter­noon here.

The Ea­gles picked up the No. 1 seed in the Div. III tour­ney, mark­ing their first ap­pear­ance in the play­offs since the 2014 sea­son.

“I just told the girls to be calm, take it like any other game and not let the mo­ment get to big for them,” said Ea­gle head coach Stephanie Niebla, who re­took the helm of the pro­gram last sea­son af­ter step­ping away af­ter the 2010 sea­son.

In Thurs­day’s firstround play­off game, the Ea­gles faced a spunky Va­quero team that came in as the No. 9 seed af­ter up­set­ting No. 8 Chula Vista in a play-in game on Tues­day.

The Va­que­ros got the game rolling quickly as they did ear­lier in the week, bring­ing in a run in the top of the first to take an early lead.

The Ea­gles were not fazed by the early score, how­ever, and worked to tie the game in the bot­tom of the in­ning.

Ari­anna Iza­guirre led things off af­ter she opened the Ea­gles’ of­fen­sive de­but with a sin­gle and moved to sec­ond on an­other base- hit from Sadriena Ro­driguez.

Both play­ers moved over on a wild pitch, while Adri­ana Molina en­sured Iza­guirre could score from third with a deep sac-fly to right field to tie the game.

The teams re­mained locked in a 1-1 bat­tle until the fifth in­ning, when the Va­quero de­fense suf­fered a few mishaps, al­low­ing the Ea­gles to load the bases with two outs for se­nior first base­man Vic­to­ria Cruz.

Cruz nearly popped up on an early pitch, but af­ter the Va­que­ros’ catcher couldn’t se­cure the ball, Cruz’s at-bat con­tin­ued.

The er­ror proved to be fa­tal as Cruz then de­liv­ered a bases-clearing dou­ble that broke the tie and ul­ti­mately served as the game-win­ning hit.

“Vic­to­ria is such a dan­ger­ous hit­ter that you just know she’s go­ing to do some­thing like that,” Niebla said. “Those first two at­bats she went 0-2 and af­ter that foul ball, you could see it in her eyes, she was so mad, and I think she just took it out on the ball.”

Earn­ing the win in the cir­cle for South­west was ju­nior hurler Ro­driguez, who tossed an­other gem and tal­lied 11 strike­outs to help push her team to the sec­ond round of the play­offs.

The Ea­gles sec­ond-round game is ten­ta­tively sched­uled for 10 a.m. Satur­day, with the op­po­nent to be de­ter­mined.

KA­RINA LOPEZ PHOTO

South­west High’s Ari­anna Iza­guirre rounds third base as an El Cap­i­tan player holds a throw from home.

KA­RINA LOPEZ PHOTO

Sadriena Ro­driguez de­liv­ers for the Ea­gles on Thurs­day.

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