It’s been more than 15 years since Long Beach Poly softball defeated Lakewood, but the Jackrabbits made a little bit of history as they defeated the Lancers 9-3 Thursday afternoon at Lakewood High.
“My girls have heart,” Poly coach Elizabeth Sanches said. “We’ve been struggling since we started league. We had the physical part, but their minds weren’t. These last couple weeks we’ve been focusing on visualizing and having anchors to ground us.”
Lakewood (12-6, 8-2) didn’t make it easy for Poly, as Kendall Lundberg continued her dominance with a 2-run home run that gave the Lancers a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
After that it was another showdown between Poly’s Isabella Alonso and the Lancers’ potent offense as Alonso posted three scoreless innings after the first.
“We had a talk in the beginning and I just told them that we got each other’s backs and let’s not think about the past and that past game – because it didn’t mean nothing,” Alonso said.
Lakewood’s Laci Berecochea pitched four scoreless innings to start the game, but the Jackrabbits (5-3, 5-3) broke through in the fifth inning when a 1-out single by Daisy Martin kickstarted a 2-run inning for Poly.
After a sacrifice-bunt advanced Martin, Tiare Ho-Ching singled to allow Martin to score and cut Lakewood’s lead to 2-1. Sakarah Buckner hit an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the bottom half of the fifth.
The Lancers answered right back as Brianna Weeks hit a single to center and scored on an error during Ale Mota’s at bat. Lakewood took a 3-2 lead heading to the sixth inning.
Poly continued to fight as Jendell Moe tied the game with a home run of her own to tie the game 3-3. Then Alonso stranded a runner on third as she struck out the next two batters to send the game to the seventh inning.
In the seventh, Ho-Ching got things started with a leadoff single and advanced to second after a single by Buckner. Alonso attempted a bunt in the next at bat and reached first base on a fielder’s choice as Ho-Ching was thrown out at third.
Kassy Villegas gave Poly a 4-3 lead when she singled to score Buckner. With two outs, the Jackrabbits scored five more runs including a two-run single from Vanessa Correa that broke the game open.
“As soon as we get little hits here and there – it’s like dominoes,” Correa said. “We just fed off that energy and kept it going.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Alonso allowed one base runner, but got the last two batters out to end the game.
“We have nothing but respect for Lakewood,” Sanches said. “Andy has done so much with that program and he’s just a great friend and a competitor.”
The Lakewood loss means Millikan takes hold of first place in the Moore League. The Rams and Lancers play on Tuesday night at Lisa Fernandez Field.
Poly hosts Carbillo and Compton next week.
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