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CIF softball: Third time, no charm

Valencia can’t beat El Modena a third time in quarterfinals

Posted: May 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 27, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Vikings shortstop Justine Sibthorp, back, forces out El Modena baserunner Sam Mazza during the sixth inning of their CIF-Southern Section Division I quarterfinal matchup on Thursday at Valencia High. El Modena beat Valencia 5-4.

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The Valencia softball team entered its CIF-Southern Section Division I quarterfinal game with a pair of victories over El Modena under its belt.

But it's hard to beat a team three times in one season.

On Thursday, it was too hard.

Vikings center fielder Missy Fundora capped a sixth-inning rally with a go-ahead two-run double, but the Vanguards scored twice more off injured starting pitcher Carly Mortensen in the seventh for a 5-4 victory at Valencia High School.

"We had to come out and bring our best game, and we didn't bring our best game today," said Vikings head coach Donna Lee. "We've got to close the season out, and get ready for next year."

The loss signaled the end of an up-and-down season for Valencia (23-7), which saw it win multiple preleague tournaments before its streak of 10 straight Foothill League titles was snapped.

The Vikings beat El Modena 2-1 in the Tournament of Champions on March 21 and again 8-5 on April 23.

And thanks to a three-run rally in the sixth, they nearly did it a third time on Thursday.

Down 3-1 after back-to-back home runs by Vanguards Victoria Zamora and Devin Vanderhoff in the third, Valencia began its comeback with three consecutive hits, including an RBI single by Justine Sibthorp.

Fundora then put her team ahead 4-3 when her fly ball to left field floated over the head of Miranda Islas, scoring two runs.

"It's more confidence," Fundora said. "We knew we'd get up there and get the runs in."

But the Vanguards (21-7-1), who beat defending CIF-SS Div. I champion Santa Margarita 2-1 in the first round and No. 2-seeded Etiwanda 12-11 in the second, put together a rally of their own.

El Modena recorded four consecutive hits in the seventh with a runner on first and one out. The stretch included RBI singles by Vanderhoff and Sam Mazza that reclaimed the lead and knocked Mortensen out of the game.

Valencia put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the inning, but couldn't capitalize.

"These girls play with so much tenacity and resiliency. They just enjoy playing together," said Vanguards head coach Steve Harrington. "We have a saying, ‘It's not about the Xs and Os, it's about the Janes and the Joes.' They just believe in each other."

Vikings sophomore Sydney Mundell came into the game with the bases loaded and retired the next two batters to end the inning.

The injury that forced Mortensen to miss most of this season's Foothill League schedule was initially diagnosed as a muscle strain, but it was discovered Wednesday that the injury was actually a stress fracture in her ulna bone.

It was clear she was not at 100 percent, Lee said.

"Carly said she was good to go," Lee said. "I should have pulled her sooner."

Mortensen finished with eight strikeouts and gave up five runs off 10 hits and three walks.

She was also spotted an early 1-0 lead after catcher Karlie Habitz hit an RBI single to left-center field in the bottom of the first.

"We are a strong team, and we never give up to the last out of the game," Habitz said. "These girls, I'm going to miss them. We have next year to go out and win it."

Habitz finished 3-for-4, while senior first baseman Bethany Kemp was 2-for-4.

El Modena pitcher Haylie Wagner got the win, striking out three and allowing four runs on nine hits.

Mazza was 3-for-3 with a walk, Zamora hit a two-run homer, and Vanderhoff was 2-for-4 with a solo shot.

"It just wasn't in the cards for us," Kemp said.



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