There wasn’t a poor vantage point at Valencia High’s Valhalla Field on Thursday. Viking fans hung over the outfield fence and waited for Ally Shipman to shoot one their way. Others, maybe those partial to pitching, hunkered down behind home plate and watched Shea O’Leary blow the ball by batter after befuddled batter. Shipman one-hopped the fence in left for a double in the first inning, she launched a two-run home run the other way in the fifth, and O’Leary struck out 12 in a complete-game one-hitter that delivered a 2-0 win over Great Oak of Temecula and a trip to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. Valencia (23-7), winner of 13 in a row, will play Foothill of Santa Ana (19-11) at home Tuesday.
What was working for O’Leary on Thursday? “Everything. Everything was on today,” Shipman said. “She was throwing hard.” Did Shipman get absolutely all of that home run? “I smoked that ball,” she said. Great Oak coach David Mercado said the scouting report on Valencia was that the offense struggled outside of Shipman. Still, he believed junior Sydney Preston would be safe throwing a low, outside pitch with the wind blowing in from right field. Shipman sent it high and deep. It didn’t come back. Macayla Paragas, who had singled, scored on the drive. It was all the runs Valencia got. It was all it needed. O’Leary struck out two batters in each of the first six innings of what coach Donna Lee called the junior’s best outing of the season.
“She was hitting her spots,” Lee said. “Her rise (ball) was working. The rise sets up everything else.” O’Leary took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before Serena Quinata lifted a soft line drive over a leaping Noel Dominguez at shortstop. Then, after a fielder’s choice, first baseman Amarys Miller Godsey made a diving catch in foul territory and threw it to second baseman Alexis Genovese, who was covering first, for a game-ending double play. “I just have to go out there with confidence,” O’Leary said. “It’s just a game overall – just keep going out there and doing my thing.” Shipman, standing close by, chimed in, “Your thing was good today.” So was Preston’s. The righty allowed one hit through the first four innings for Great Oak (15-8). She struck out four and walked two before running into trouble in the fifth.