Thursday proved to be the pitchers’ duel everyone figured it’d be.
Valencia High softball, if you ask coach Donna Lee, probably went further than everyone figured it would.
The Vikings came out on the wrong side of a 1-0 game at No. 3 seed Orange Lutheran in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. But Lee hardly saw it as a letdown for a group that should return 11 seniors next season.
“I think we overachieved,” Lee said. “Our defense was absolutely stellar. With Shea (O’Leary) pitching, all you had to get her was two or three runs and you’re there. We couldn’t materialize that today. Overall, I think we definitely overachieved.”
O’Leary tossed a complete-game three hitter Thursday, with Orange Lutheran’s lone run coming in the fifth on a throwing error.
Kira La Scola doubled and scored that run for the Trinity League-champion Lancers (28-4), who will play Los Alamitos in Tuesday’s D1 semifinals.
Valencia (24-8) will move into the offseason with the prospect of a bright 2018.
The Vikings will return O’Leary and catcher Ally Shipman, who finished the year batting over .600.
In fact, Valencia’s entire starting infield and outfield are set to return for a run at a third-straight Foothill League title.
“I’m excited for next year,” Lee said.
As for Thursday, when the Vikings managed just one hit against Stanford-bound pitcher Maddy Dwyer, Lee said it was a matter of inches.
With two outs and runners at second and third in the top of the fifth, Macayla Paragas might have eked out an infield single, but she was called for stepping out of the box.
“We didn’t get the inches today, that’s all there is to it,” Lee said. “We played a great game. Shea pitched a phenomenal game. They got the inches. We didn’t.”
O’Leary struck out four and walked none.
Amarys Miller Godsey recorded Valencia’s lone hit in the fifth. Alexis Genovese reached on an error, and Ashley Griffith bunted them over.
But a run never came in Valencia’s second straight quarterfinal loss.
The Vikings lost to Norco, 2-1, last season.