Shortstop Ashannalee Titialii snared a scorching line drive off the bat of Granada Hills’ Jasmine Soriano with two outs and the tying run on first base in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure Carson’s 12-11 victory in the City Section Open Division softball championship game Saturday afternoon at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
The top-seeded Highlanders were in danger of being mercied but rallied for 10 runs in the sixth inning, aided by five Carson errors, to even the score at 10-10 and had the bases loaded when starting pitcher Giselle Pantoja re-entered the game and struck out Zoe Justman to keep the score tied.
After neither team scored in the seventh, Carson regained the lead on Alana Langford’s two-run home run over the center-field fence in the top of the eighth. Alyssa Villasenor almost made it a three-run margin but Granada Hills left fielder Vivian Acosta made a leaping grab at the fence for the final out.
“To be honest, I was on [pitcher Addison Moorman’s] ball the entire game,” Langford said. “She missed her spot and I took advantage of it. Between innings after they tied it we came together and said it’s a new game, zero-zero. It’s what this team’s about. We started the season 0-9 and look at us now.”
Malia Plourde blasted a solo homer to center with one out in the bottom of the eighth to pull the Highlanders within one run. Lainey Brown flied out to left and Jeanette Camarena drew a walk, bringing up Soriano and setting the stage for Titialii’s game-saving catch.
“It was just reaction — I just dove that way and felt it in my glove,” said the freshman. “I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t realize the game was over until everyone started screaming.”
It was the 19th straight win for second-seeded Carson (19-9), which captured its fourth City title — all in the upper division — and first since 2014. It also avenged a 6-2 tournament loss in February.
Rihanna Maulupe hit a two-run homer to open the scoring in the first inning. Rylee Gardner hit a solo homer to lead off the third and Letu’u Simi doubled to right to make it 4-0 five batters later. Simi singled with the bases loaded in the fifth and an RBI groundout by Amanda Marrufo upped the lead to 8-0. Titialii singled, Maulupe doubled and Zaniah Puni followed with a two-run single to make in 10-0 in the top off the sixth.
Plourde, Brown, Camarena, Justman and Samantha Esparza all had hits for Granada Hills (24-5), which batted around twice in the bottom of the sixth.
Jessica Ramos belted a two-run single to right field with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Chavez to a 7-6 victory over San Fernando.
“She didn’t pitch me the whole game, so any mistake I was hoping to hit,” Ramos said. “They’re our new rivals. It felt good to come through for my team.”
Center fielder Viviana Villasenor went three for four with four RBIs, including a single down the left-field line to plate her team’s first run, a two-run triple in the second and a double to left in the fourth inning that increased the Eagles’ lead to 5-2.
Kailey Duran pitched a six-hitter with six walks and one strikeout for the top-seeded Eagles (23-8), who captured their fifth City title since 2015 and third in Division I. Erika Deniz doubled off the top of the fence to score the first run of the game and an RBI groundout by Melissa Cabrera made it 2-0 in the top of the first inning for No. 2- San Fernando (19-7), which was trying to avenge a 6-5 loss in eight innings March 13.
Natalia Hernandez smacked a two-run double to left to tie the score 5-5 in the top of the fifth, but Jessica Hernandez was tagged out at home by Ramos trying to score from third on a wild pitch. The Tigers regained the lead 6-5 in the sixth when Chavez third baseman Lauren Becerra dropped a routine pop up with two outs.
Julie Aguilar overcame a shaky start to toss an eight-hitter and Gatailevao Leasiolagi had two hits and three RBIs, including a solo home run in the seventh inning, as fifth-seeded Verdugo Hills (16-8) captured its first section title since 1996 with an 8-6 victory over Cleveland.
Yahali Gonzalez hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning for second-seeded Cleveland (12-13-1).
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.