The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr
The Millikan softball team has made one thing clear during their playoff run through the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs: Don’t call them an underdog.
After taking care of business against Crescenta Valley in the opening round of the playoffs, the Rams gutted out two wins against La Habra and South Hills, CIF’s No. 4 and No. 5 seeds in the final section polls.
On Saturday, Millikan continued their gauntlet through the top teams in the division as they traveled 42 miles to take on top-ranked Corona Centennial for a morning matchup.
The Rams were more than ready as sophomore Ava Schaffel was dominant striking out 10 as Millikan defeated the Huskies 7-2 to punch their ticket to their first CIF championship appearance since 2005.
Millikan will now face Mission Viejo in the championship game on Friday or Saturday next week.
Schaffel showed dominating control throughout the morning as she painted the zone and frequently froze batters with her off-speed pitches.
“I thought I had really good spin and my speed was good today,” Schaffel said. “Last game I didn’t really have my stuff so I knew I just had to break it down, slow the game down and throw strikes.”
The Rams’ offense got going early on as Emily Hanniff started Millikan with a single to center and then stole second base to get into scoring position.
Erica Estrada then reached first on a throwing error and Hanniff scored to give Millikan an early 1-0 lead.
After retiring Centennial in order, Millikan got back to work in the second inning scoring four runs taking advantage of some untimely errors by the Huskies’ infield.
“(The errors) aren’t something normal for Centennial,” Millikan coach Michelle Lehr said. “There’s no way they’d make it this far if it is. Kind of like us in game four and game three. Sometimes you have some unusual mistakes than you’ve had all year. I’d probably chalk this game up to that.”
Centennial’s Giselle Bentley settled in after that pitching two scoreless innings. Katie Knarr than kickstarted another run for the Rams after she hit a lead-off single to right field.
Another error helped push another run across and Mikaela Pacheco crushed a double off the right field wall to give Millikan a dominant 5-0 lead.
The Huskies got two runs back when Sierra Humphreys crushed a 2-run home run to center field.
Schaffel then settled back down and finished the game to finish the complete game and lead Millikan to the championship.