The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr.
From the outset, the St. Anthony Saints didn’t look quite like themselves in a CIF-SS Division 3 semifinal loss at Tesoro on Monday afternoon. The Saints had been pretty convincing through their first three rounds of the playoffs, but ran into a buzzsaw in a 9-1 defeat against the Titans.
“They had a better softball day than we did today,” said Saints head coach Joe Younger after the loss. “They made the plays and we didn’t.”
The hosts scored a run in five of their six innings at the plate, including a pair of three-run rallies in the fourth and sixth innings. Tesoro struck early with a run in the bottom of the first before an out was recorded.
Saints starting pitcher Rose Can allowed a walk, a bunt hit, then hit a batter to load the bases in the opening frame. Her second walk then forced in a run to make it 1-0 Titans. Cano buckled down, however, getting an infield popup and back-to-back strikeouts the strand the bases loaded.
Tesoro doubled its lead in the third when their starter, Kennedy Hobson, smacked a solo home run to left to make it a 2-0 game.
Cano then started the next inning with a base hit, followed by an infield single from Nata Leomiti to put two runners on with no outs. A pair of groundouts would then score courtesy runner Tye Claybrook, cutting the deficit in half. The trouble for the Saints was they only had one hit the entire game outside of that fourth inning rally–a two-out single in the sixth by Leomiti.
“We came in here with a ton of confidence, we just didn't execute on the field,” Younger said. “That's not characteristic of our bats, only putting one up on the board. But I'm proud of my girls.”
After getting on the board and getting back to within a run, Tesoro mounted a key two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth, collecting four straight two-out hits to bring home a trio of runs. A two-out single from Loula McNamara capped that rally, and made it a 5-1 Tesoro lead.
Leadoff hitter Kiara Cisneros was a spark plug, going 2/4 with a walk, a double, a stolen base, a run scored and three RBIs. McNamara had 3 RBIs of her own and also pitched the final four innings in relief for the Titans, allowing just one hit while striking out three Saints. The Titans played terrific defense all afternoon, led by shortstop Cadence Gilliland and third baseman Allison Kloft.
St. Anthony will now await the CIF State Regional brackets, which will be released on May 29. Coach Younger told his team to remain upbeat after the loss, knowing there’s more softball for them to play as a group.
“I told them to walk out here with their heads up,” Younger said. “We're a good softball team, and we still have something to prove. We're gonna bring our best game to regionals and hopefully we're going to be there at the end.”