The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr
The classic “Two outs, so what?” Lakewood High baseball and softball motto is perfect for this 2022 softball team. They seem to play their best when their backs are against the wall, and that was the case again on Thursday at Joe Rodgers Stadium.
A two-out rally sparked by the heart of the Lakewood lineup in the fourth inning pushed the Lancers past Long Beach Poly 10-2.
“It’s just fun to hit with two outs and be that spark,” Lakewood junior Laci Berecochea said. “It’s about putting the ball on the ground and making them make a play.”
Berecochea, Julia Miramontes, Cat Clazada and Madeleine Mendoza all had RBI hits with two outs in the fourth inning.
“Julia Miramontes’ big hit kind of opened the floodgates and we were able to capitalize,” Lakewood coach Andy Miramontes said. “I’ve told the girls all year that good hitting is contagious. It proved so in that inning.”
The win keeps Lakewood in a tie for first place with Millikan in the Moore League, and moves Poly down to second place just a game back. The Lancers and Rams play on Tuesday night at Mayfair Park.
“As long as we stay where we are right now and keep the confidence, I’m sure we have a good chance at winning league,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza led the Lakewood offense with three hits, two triples, two RBI and three runs scored.
“She’s been clutch in a lot of big games,” Miramontes said of Mendoza. “I’m really impressed with her this year. She’s kind of like a silent assassin. She’s quiet but she’s up to it.”
In their first meeting back in March when Poly beat Lakewood 3-0, Mendoza had a pair of doubles off Jackrabbits ace Bella Alonso. She tripled in her first at bat on Thursday and scored the first run of the game.
“I like to hit rise balls and when she threw me the rise ball this time I knew I had to take advantage of it,” Mendoza said.
Calzada, Berecochea and Mendoza combined for seven hits, five RBI and seven runs scored in the 3-4-5 spots of the lineup.
“It’s our energy,” Mendoza said of the Lancers' resilience. “We’re all so bonded together and have so much chemistry so we bring each other up.”
Berecochea was also in full control in the circle while scattering seven hits and four walks. Poly scored in the second and sixth innings, but stranded 12 runners on base.
“It’s a game of adjustments and we didn’t make a whole lot,” Poly coach Elizabeth Sanches said. “With a 260-foot fence, deep fly balls don’t help us. We kept swinging for the trees and she was serving it up because that’s exactly what she wanted us to do.”
Berecochea has improved mightily this season after taking over the ace role despite being a natural field player. Making an adjustment to the umpire’s strike zone and dialing in her changeup carried the southpaw to the finish.
“I was trying to be too perfect (early in the season),” Berecochea said. “This game I was just trying to get ahead and really trust my defense. We work a lot on defense every day so it’s easy to trust them. It’s always easy to pitch with a big lead.”
“I’ve worked with her on coming back even when you’re behind in the count,” Clazada said of being Berecochea’s catcher. “The count is not over until it’s over. There’s always room for improvement.”
“I think she’s getting a little bit more confidence and she’s having fun,” Miramontes said of Berecochea. “That’s the most important thing. She’s adjusted her role and is having fun and she’s doing a great job.”
Poly still has important Moore League games against Millikan and Wilson, but it’s likely that the Tuesday game between Lakewood and Millikan will decide the league title.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Miramontes said. “We’ll be ready. I’m sure the Rams will be ready.”