The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
Apparently, all Lakewood and Wilson softball do is play extra innings games against each other.
The Lancers came back to beat the Bruins in extra innings on the road earlier this month, and they did it again on Thursday. Lakewood came back to tie the game with four runs in the sixth inning, and then walked off winners in the eighth inning at home 5-4.
“I think it’s just our energy and our drive to win,” Lakewood catcher Cat Calzada said. “We always know we can come back even if we’re down by 10 runs. Until that last pitch we can come back. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”
Calzada sparked the four-run rally in the sixth inning that tied the game, and she came around to score the game-winning run on a play at the plate in the eighth.
“Since day one she’s been a competitor,” Lakewood coach Andy Miramontes said of Calzada. “She’s a gamer and she gets better as the situation arises. She’s got positive energy no matter what. She’s one of our younger leaders who hopefully in her junior and senior year will take over this team.”
The first five innings of the game were a pitcher’s duel between Lakewood’s Laci Berecochea and Wilson’s Emily Castano. The two teams combined for only six base runners until both teams scored four runs in the sixth inning. Berecochea finished with eight strikeouts in a complete game performance. Castano also went the distance while forcing 13 outs in the air.
“I’ll be honest, we didn’t execute our game plan,” Miramontes said of the Lakewood offense. “We wanted to get on top of the ball in the beginning but we had a bunch of pop ups again. But at the end when it counted our leadoff hitters got on and we put something together.”
Wilson got on the scoreboard first in the sixth as the Bruins loaded the bases with a Leah Pettway double, a fielder's choice and an intentional walk. Adriana Wiggins drew a walk to bring the first run home, then shortstop Tallulah Watts drove home two runs with a single up the middle. Sophomore Kaijah Alexander then plated the fourth run of the inning with a sacrifice fly RBI.
Lakewood answered immediately as Bri Weeks and Julia Miramontes led off the bottom of the sixth with singles. Calzada drove in Weeks with a single, and then a fielder's choice and an error brought in Miramontes.
“Taking from my first at bat where I popped out, so I thought to stay on top and get anything on the ground,” Calzada said. “We were all just trying to be team players, put the ball in play and create action.”
Kaleyse Foster scored the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly RBI, and Isabelle Casanova tied the game with an RBI single.
Miramontes made a diving catch in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the frame, Calzada led off with a walk. She took second on a bunt single by Berecochea. They moved into scoring position on a sac bunt by Madeleine Mendoza. After a walk to load the bases, Casanova hit the ball to shortstop and Calzada beat the throw home.
“It seems to be the pattern right now,” Wilson coach George Molina said about his team losing a third league game in extra innings. “We’ve had a lead in those three games and we’ve got to finish and figure out a way to get out of innings. I’m very proud of the girls because we battled. We’ve just got to eliminate the big bad inning. We seem to have one of those almost every game.”
Calzada said the key to victory was picking up the energy in the Lakewood dugout, and although she’s just a sophomore, she wants to be that spark for her team.
“It’s something I try to do,” Clazada said. “Whenever we have energy and we’re screaming, the adrenaline pushes us forward. I try to get everyone up in the dugout so we can formulate that energy because that’s what softball is supposed to be. We’re supposed to be high energy and work together as a whole.”
The victory keeps Lakewood tied for first place in league with Millikan and Long Beach Poly. The next big league game is Millikan visiting Wilson on Tuesday.
“This is a good team, our chemistry is great, and good teams find a way to win,” Miramontes said. “(The league race is) anyone's game and it's about who wants it most. It showed that we wanted it a little bit more today.”