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West Ranch eliminated from playoffs by Santiago for third time

Posted: May 23, 2013 9:30 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2013 9:30 p.m.

West Ranch's Lauren Lombardi hits a home run in the second inning against Santiago High School on Thursday.

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West Ranch Wildcats softball is sure getting tired of the Santiago of Corona Sharks.

On Thursday, in a CIF-Southern Section Division I quarterfinal at West Ranch High School, the Sharks defeated West Ranch for the sixth straight time and fourth time this season, this time by a score of 6-3.

It was the third straight year the Wildcats have been eliminated from the postseason by Santiago (28-5 overall).

“We’re not losing to the same team for the third time (in the playoffs),” shortstop Kylie Sorenson said of the team’s mindset entering Thursday’s contest.

Unfortunately for West Ranch (20-12), few on the team could solve San Diego State-bound pitcher Erika Romero.

The senior, who entered with a 0.76 ERA and has started each of the previous two CIF-SS Division I title games, went the distance, allowing five hits and striking out 12.

Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, West Ranch staged its lone successful rally against Romero. Sorenson sent a 1-2 pitch to the left-center field wall that scored Hailey Hineman and Charlotte Romero and sent Mollie Sorenson to third, tying the score at 3-3.

But the Sorenson sisters were left stranded after Lauren Lindvall’s squeeze attempt went just foul. From there Erika Romero struck out Lindvall and Julia Lombardi to end the inning.

“Definitely big. It’s all about momentum and when something like that happens it changes the game,” Erika Romero said.

Things unraveled for the Wildcats from there.

To that point, West Ranch starting pitcher Lexi Sorensen had pitched herself in and out of jams all game long, holding the Sharks to single runs in the second, third and fifth when it looked like Santiago might rally for more.

But after going ahead 0-2 on No. 8 hitter Kaylin Crumpton in the sixth, Sorensen’s 1-2 pitch was sent deep over the left field wall to give Santiago the lead for good, 4-3.

After an error put a runner on second, Nikki Orozco and Rachel Minogue picked up RBI singles to set the final score at 6-3.

“Today it was a game where both teams came out battling,” Kylie Sorenson said. “They just had one bigger inning than we did.”

Erika Romero settled back down in the sixth, dispatching the Wildcats in order before Hineman and Mollie Sorenson reached in the bottom of the seventh with one out.

This time, though, Kylie Sorenson flew out to right field and Lindvall grounded out to short to end the Wildcats’ season.

“I’m very proud of my team,” Kylie Sorenson said. “We were scrappy and we didn’t just lay down.”

She finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Princeton-bound Hailey Hineman was 2-for-3. Long Beach State-bound Lauren Lombardi was 1-for-3 with a home run that came on the 11th pitch of her first at-bat to tie the score at 1-1 in the second inning.

University of Texas-commit Randel Leahy was 1-for-2 with two runs scored for Santiago. Minogue was 4-for-4 with two RBIs and a run and Houston-committ Crumpton was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and the home run.

West Ranch may only be graduating three seniors, but the Wildcats will lose a lot in terms of talent off its back-to-back Foothill League champion 2013 squad.

Lombardi, the team’s starting catcher and second baseman Hineman will exit, along with reigning Foothill League and All-SCV Player of the Year Kylie Sorenson.

“She’s the back-to-back (Foothill) Player of the Year. She’s the best kid in this valley,” said West Ranch head coach Bob Shults. “She’s going to Stanford for a reason. Replacing her is going to be really hard. (All three) are going to be hard kids to replace. But we’ve got kids who will step up.”

 

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