By Jason Greenwald
For The Signal
The West Ranch softball team will be moving on to the second round after defeating Millikan 9-5 at home in the first round of the 2019 CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs on Thursday.
It’s the first round-one playoff win for the Wildcats (15-7 overall, 8-2 in Foothill League) since the 2014-2015 season, when they claimed a 2-0 victory against Edison High School.
“It’s the first time these kids have been to the playoffs since 2015, so it’s a great opportunity for them,” said West Ranch head coach Phil Giarrizzo. “We have seven seniors on this team and this is the reward that they get for their performance today. Whether it was a play in the field, whether it was a hit or a home run, they all had a part in it.”
The Wildcats took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the third inning when senior third baseman Gianna Lombardi came to the plate with one out and senior catcher Adrienne Chang on first base and freshman left fielder Lily Baggot on third. Lombardi found her pitch and ripped a hard-hit double into the outfield, scoring Chang and Baggot for a 2-0 lead.
“Usually when everybody on the team is doing really well it gives me the momentum to do well also,” said Lombardi. “They pick me up and help me get it going, but there is always room for improvement, so I’m going to keep working hard at hitting for my team.”
Continuing its momentum from the prior inning, West Ranch scored three runs against Millikan (17-11,10-2 in Moore League) in the bottom of the fourth inning to secure the lead at 5-0.
Freshmen designated player Alyssa Jauregui and senior center fielder Sara Olsen both singled to centerfield during the inning to get on base.
With two outs and two runners on base, Chang laced a double deep into the outfield, scoring Jauregui and Olsen.
Lombardi, who went 2-for-4 and assembled four RBIs during the game, brought in another run during the fourth when she hit a ground ball into the infield and induced a throwing error from the Rams third basemen to first, allowing Chang to score.
Senior starting pitcher Jenna Rorick pitched five scoreless innings until the top of the sixth, when she gave up two runs to Millikan.
The Wildcats offense answered back during the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring four runs and advancing the lead to 9-2.
Baggot and Chang both reached base and continued to create scoring opportunities for Lombardi, who was the next batter at the plate. Lombardi seized her chance and singled home Baggot for an RBI.
With two outs in the inning, Senior shortstop Delaney Bevan came to plate with Chang and Lombardi on base. Bevan proceeded to hit a monsterous three-run home run clear over the left field wall, helping cement the Wildcats lead going into the top of the seventh.
“I was super pumped because I was obviously 0-for-3 before the hit and I had my teammates picking me up,” Bevan said. “I think we can win it, we have the momentum on our side, and I think we’ll do really good in playoffs and hopefully go further than the next game.”
Rorick was tagged with three runs in the top of the seventh when Millikan began to mount a comeback during a two-out rally. After a Giarrizzo mound visit, Rorick closed out the game sending West Ranch to the next round.
The Wildcats will play Highland in the next round of the playoffs. The game will take place Tuesday, May 7th at 3:15. The location has yet to be determined.