Long Beach Poly Millikan Softball

Softball: Huge First Inning Carries Millikan Past Long Beach Poly

The562’s high school softball coverage for the 2023 season is sponsored by Long Beach City Councilwoman Megan Kerr.

The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.

The goal is set and the message was sent on Monday by Millikan softball.

The Rams lost in a CIF Southern Section championship game last year, so first baseman Katie Knarr and her very experienced teammates got straight to business with an 11-4 win over visiting Long Beach Poly on Monday.

“We’re going to finish what we started last year,” Knarr said.

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Millikan scored four quick runs in the first inning on its way to scoring in five of six innings. Knarr hit a double in the first and came around to score before crushing a 3-run home run in the fourth inning.

“Coming home was amazing,” Knarr said of the celebration at the plate after her homer. “I think the energy was really high today, and that helped us with our hat start.”

Knarr, Erica Estrada and Ari Ramirez all scored twice while eight of nine spots in the lineup scored. The Rams finished with 13 hits.

“Our girls came to hit, obviously,” Millikan coach Michelle Lehr said. “(Poly) had us a little nervous because we respect their hitters. There was a lot of tension coming into this game.”

That angst was also relieved by Millikan starting pitcher Victoria Byrum who stuck out out seven batters in the first three innings. Poly got on the scoreboard and chased Byrum in the fourth inning, but Ava Schaffel was able to step into the circle and finish the game.

As a sophomore, Schaffel helped lead the Rams to the league and CIF titles after replacing an injured Byrum, and this year Schaffel is also coming back from an offseason injury.

“My goal this year is to work both pitchers in every big game and save their arms so we can have a good run in the playoffs,” Lehr said.

Addy Everett, Shorty Wright and Joss Owen drove in the first-inning runs for Millikan thanks to a few well placed singles. A pair of errors to lead off the second inning allowed Emily Hanniff to score and make it 4-0.

Kiele Ho-Ching hit a solo home run to start the fourth. Ari Molina and Sakarah Buckner had the other RBI hits for Poly.

“We’re the young guns with a lot of talent and they’re coming up against girls who are used to it, but that’s no excuse because my girls can play against anyone,” Poly coach Elizabeth Sanches-Martin said. “They just need to understand that. They’re good enough to know that.”

VIDEO: Millikan vs. Long Beach Poly, Softball
PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs. Millikan, Softball
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.