DOWNEY — With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning, West Ranch freshman Alyssa Jauregui stepped up to the plate.
Before she took a swing, Wildcats head coach Phil Giarrizzo called a timeout and took his freshman aside to give her some advice.
Jauregui heeded her coach’s words, and blasted the first pitch she saw over the left field fence.
“When I called the timeout to go talk to her, we had momentum going, and you really hate to do it, but with a freshman coming up with the bases loaded and all that pressure on her I felt like I needed to do that,” Giarrizzo said. “She listened, and she launched.”
“This whole season my hitting has been struggling and I knew my girls needed me, so I just stayed calm and came through for them,” Jauregui said. “It was the best feeling ever.”
The grand slam increased the Wildcats lead to 8-1 at the time, and they tacked on six more runs in the last two innings to defeat Warren 14-1 in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 softball playoffs at Warren High School on Thursday.
The fifth inning scoring onslaught began with the bottom of the lineup, as freshman Lily Baggot came up with a base hit. Senior leadoff hitter Sara Olson then hit a line drive single to advance Baggot to third, and Olson reached second on the throw to third.
“Being in that nine-hole, they just try and start ahead and she’s ready for it. She’s not intimidated by anybody,” assistant coach Tim Rorick said about Baggot. “She sees a pitch and she jumps on it. They don’t want to walk the nine-hitter especially with Sara Olson and Adrienne Chang on deck. All year she’s made them pay because if they put it in there, she’s going to barrel it up.”
With Baggot and Olson on base, senior catcher Adrienne Chang hit a hard grounder scoring both players, starting a flurry of runs that gave the Wildcats an insurmountable lead.
Baggot finished the game 1-for-4 with a run, Olson went 2-for-5 with a run and Chang went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
Senior Gianna Lombardi crushed a double on the first pitch she saw to advance Chang to third. Then senior Delaney Bevan was intentionally walked, leading to a bases loaded scenario for senior pitcher Jenna Rorick.
Rorick hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Chang and increasing West Ranch’s lead to 3-1. Junior Julie Mennuti reached base on a walk, leading to another bases loaded situation.
Lombardi scored when senior Madison Flatt was walked, and once again the bases were loaded, leading to Jauregui’s grand slam.
“That was honestly insane, she was definitely due for a big hit,” Lombardi said about Jauregui’s homer. “We all knew that she could completely yeet it over the fence and just hit it super far so when she did that we we’re going nuts, it was so cool.”
“Her batting practice is something special. We know she has that potential, she just needed a boost of confidence and just let her do her thing,” Tim Rorick said about Jauregui. “She’s got tremendous power. Her and Delaney Bevan have little home run competitions. Half the balls they hit are home runs.”
The Wildcats kept the offense rolling in the sixth inning, as Chang hit a long pop up to center field that dropped for a double. Lombardi then smashed a double to score Chang.
Bevan came up with a base hit and Rorick hit a line drive single bringing Lombardi across home plate.
Lombardi went 3-for-5 on the afternoon with two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored. Bevan finished 1-for-3 with a run and a walk, and Rorick had one hit in two at-bats to go along with two walks and two RBIs.
With the score 10-1, the Bears switched pitchers, but they couldn’t stop the bleeding.
Mennuti hit a hard grounder and was thrown out at first, but freshman Schalyn Rhambo, who came in as a pinch-runner, was able to score. Mennuti logged two RBIs and a run, going 1-for-4 overall.
After Flatt was walked, Jauregui notched her fifth RBI of the game, hitting a line drive single scoring freshman Emma Warford who also came in as a runner.
Jauregui finished the game 2-for-4 with five RBIs and a run scored.
With the Wildcats holding a 12-1 lead heading into the final inning, the team was able to get reserves in for some plate appearances.
The offense in the seventh inning started with Chang getting on base with a single, then Bevan came up with a base hit. Senior Alyssa Jones hit a single to score Chang and Mennuti scored Bevan on a single of her own.
Just like she’s been doing all season long, Rorick pitched a complete game, allowing nine hits while logging four strikeouts. Of her 92 total pitches, 59 were strikes and 33 were balls.
The only run Warren was able to score was unearned in the third inning off of a West Ranch error.
“It’s all about her teammates,” Tim Rorick said about the Wildcats’ starting pitcher. “She looks behind her and that’s what she feeds on. It’s never about her and that’s what I love. When the other team gets louder I’m calling pitches and I just kind of have a little smile because she locks in even more. The louder they are the better I know she’s going to do. It’s fun.”
After back-to-back games on the road, West Ranch will face Woodrow Wilson of Long Beach at home on Tuesday in the semifinals. First pitch is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.
The Wildcats will have the day off on Friday and hold an optional batting practice on Saturday, before gearing up for practice on Monday in preparation for Tuesday’s game.
“We don’t need to change anything, just put everything we have on the field,” Lombardi said. “Obviously when we put everything we can into the game that’s when we do really well, so we just have to keep doing that.”