Lakewood Millikan Softball

Softball: Millikan Walks Off Winners Against Lakewood

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 Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.

There’s just something special about the biannual Lakewood and Millikan softball games under the lights at Lisa Fernandez Field. It’s an understatement to say the rivalry vibes are palpable every time the Lancers and Rams get together in Moore League play.

Just like last year when their first meeting was decided by a walk-off hit back to the pitcher, Millikan senior Robin Garcia’s game winning hit went off the pitcher’s glove to score China Duncan and give the Rams a 7-6 walk-off victory in the bottom of the seventh.

Millikan (16-6, 6-0) takes over sole possession of first place in league with the win.

“Other than our CIF run last year, these games are just as intense,” Millikan coach Michelle Lehr said. “I lose just as much sleep. I woke up this morning at 5 a.m. and couldn’t go back to bed. My mind was circling around the plan to beat Lakewood.”

Millikan has won four of the last seven games against Lakewood, and five of the last seven meetings were one-run games.

“We bring a big group of fans and I feel like my girls feed off of that hype,” Lehr added. “We’re really fortunate to have that because you can see the difference.”

Millikan scored five times in the second inning to take a 5-2 lead, but Lakewood scored twice in the third and fifth innings to go up 6-5. The Rams responded again with a game-tying run in the bottom of the fifth, and then consecutive singles from Katie Knarr, Ari Ramirez and Shorty Wright loaded the bases for Garcia with one out in the bottom of the seventh.

“Coming to the batter’s box I was already preparing myself to execute and get the win for our team,” Garcia said. “Of course I was nervous, but I just let my emotions go past me and I just did what I had to do.”

After working the count full, Garcia pulled a ground ball to the left side and it deflected off the outstretched glove of Lakewood pitcher Laci Berecochea while Duncan came in to score.

“She’s seeing the ball really well right now so she’s been really locked in,” Lehr said. “I didn’t have any stress. I thought she was going to give us a deep fly ball to right field, so I thought we had it in the bag.”

“I think it means everything to us,” Garcia said of the win. “This is huge. I think we really needed this and it’s a lot of motivation and energy we can keep going in the next games.”

Garcia also drove in two runs with a double in the second inning. Millikan’s leadoff hitter Emily Hanniff had a single, a walk and also drove in two with a double in the second inning. Rams first baseman Katie Knarr had two singles and an RBI double, and third baseman Ari Ramirez also had a pair of singles with a run scored.

Support The562.org

Millikan was without regular starting pitcher Victoria Byrum, who missed the game due to personal issues, so they turned to Ava Schaffel and Lauren Cantwell. Schaffel pitched into the third inning, and Cantwell came out of the bullpen to finish the game. She didn’t give up another hit after Foster’s 1-out triple in the fifth inning. She stranded five runners and struck out two.

“Going out there I was really nervous and kind of shaking. But once I got used to it and got the first out it felt like a regular game. I focused on my catcher and had to ignore the crowd. I just imagined no one else was here except me and my catcher.”

Lakewood left fielder Katelyn Lewis gave her team the lead with a 2-out, 2-run RBI triple that scored Julia Miramontes and Cat Calzada. Center fielder Maddy Mendoza also had a 2-out, 2-RBI hit in the third inning. Foster’s RBI triple in the fifth was the biggest hit of the day, and she scored on a fielder's choice. She also drew two walks and scored twice.

With all of the emotion swirling around in the cold wind on Monday night, Garcia thinks the key to Millikan coming back for the win came from the Rams dugout.

“We just always keep each other up,” she said. “We always reassure each other. Even if someone didn’t execute, we always make sure they’re okay so they can continue playing and doing their job."

Lakewood (8-5, 6-1) visits Wilson on Tuesday before Millikan faces Long Beach Poly on Wednesday. Both games will be at Joe Rodgers.

VIDEO: Millikan vs. Lakewood, Softball
PHOTOS: Millikan vs. Lakewood, 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.