The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr
St. Anthony softball has been patiently waiting to get back on the field after losing in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinals.
The Saints also waited patiently to drum up some offense in the first round of the CIF State Division III playoffs on Tuesday at Pan American Park.
A four-run sixth inning lifted St. Anthony to a 4-2 win over visiting Burroughs. The Saints will visit Granite Hills on Thursday for the second round.
“We were a little bit flat (in the CIF-SS playoff loss) and that kind of carried over into this game but I just kept telling the girls that they couldn’t let them keep us down,” St. Anthony’s Jayla Cadena said. “We know the kind of team we are and let’s show that and prove it to them.”
Caden led the Saints offense with a single, a triple, a walk and a run scored in three trips to the plate. She also scattered four hits and a walk in three innings in the circle.
“We feel good and have a chance to redeem ourselves,” St. Anthony coach Joseph Younger said. “We had a bad game (in the CIF-SS playoffs) and we’ve been looking forward to this. We’re excited to keep playing.”
Burroughs took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning while St. Anthony struggled to take advantage of putting runners on base. The Saints had a runner in scoring position in all but one inning and finally broke through in the sixth inning.
Aimee Metz led off with a single through the left side to chase Burroughs starting pitcher Stevie Dabbadie. Kelsey Acosta came out of the bullpen and Cadena promptly drew a walk before Rose Cano singled to right field to load the bases.
Nata Leomiti laid down a nice bunt and Metz beat the throw home to get the Saints on the board. Miracle McKenzie followed that up with an RBI single to left field that scored Cadena to tie the game.
With the bases still loaded and one out, Kween Tavala drew a walk to score Cano, and while the Burroughs catcher took her time getting the ball back to the pitcher, Leomiti didn’t stop running. She timed it perfectly and scored from second base to put St. Anthony up 4-2.
“That is something we practice,” Younger said. “(Third base coach Daniel) watches everything and if he sees a catcher being lazy with the ball he’ll take home. That’s not the first time we’ve done that this year.”
“I just kept telling (my teammates) that I have confidence in them and that it was going to come eventually because we were putting the ball in play,” Cadena said. “After we capitalized on their mistakes that’s when the runs started coming in.”
After starting the game and only pitching the first inning, Cano came back into the game to relieve Cadena in the fifth inning. The senior only gave up one hit in four innings. She only had a handful of strikeouts, but two of them came in the top of the seventh inning to secure the victory.
“She has done so much for us,” Younger said of Cano. “She came in and pitched lights out in the second half of league after the first half when it was kind of the Jayla show. I have faith in both of them. It’s nice not to show a lineup the same thing three times though. That was our plan today.”