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Lakewood Long Beach Poly Softball

Softball: Lakewood Holds On To Beat 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 Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.

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.

No matter where she’s hitting in the lineup, or where she’s playing in the field, Lakewood’s Cat Calzada has a knack for delivering in pressure situations.

“She’s clutch, that’s all I can say,” Lakewood coach Andy Miramontes said with a shrug after Calzada’s 2-out, 2-RBI triple ended up being the game-winning hit in a Moore League victory over Long Beach Poly 4-3 on Wednesday at Joe Rodgers Stadium.

“I tried to calm my nerves and just stay in the moment and try to look for a pitch that I can drive,” Calzada said. “In my other at bats I was looking for an inside pitch. I (needed) more plate discipline.”

Calzada, who is an All-League catcher, was starting at shortstop for only the second time because of team need.

“It definitely was a surprise but I’m willing to do anything for this team,” she said. “In practice I’ve been working at shortstop to be prepared. I think I could have done better in this game, and I’ll be working towards that.”

“I have so much confidence in Cat that she can play any position,” Miramontes said.

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Lakewood starter Laci Berecochea (7 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 5 K) tossed a complete game after settling in and stringing together four scoreless innings to finish the game. She retired eight straight batters from the fifth to the seventh, and it all started with back-to-back fifth-inning strikeouts that stranded two runners in scoring position.

“I’m impressed with how she battled,” Miramontes said of Berecochea. “She was fearless today and this might be her best outing. She might have had a little help from the umpires, but that went both ways so it is what it is.”

“I think I was adjusting to (the umpire's) zone and learning how to use it,” Berecochea said of getting better as the game got longer. “He had it big for both sides and once I got it, I knew how to use it, trust my defense and not try to be perfect.”

Poly third baseman Emoni Lam Sam gave her team a first-inning lead thanks to a two-out single, a wild pitch and aggressive base running on Sakarah Buckner’s infield single. 

After Kalyse Foster doubled to lead off the second inning for Lakewood, Katelyn Lewis hit a high fly ball to center field that was dropped. The Jackrabbits proceeded to make a few more throwing errors that allowed both Foster and Lewis to score and make it 2-1 Lakewood.

“We made some mistakes that came back and bit us and you can’t make mistakes against Lakewood and teams that are that good,” Poly coach Elizabeth Sanches-Martin said.

Poly retook the lead in the bottom of the third when sisters Tiare and Kiele Ho-Ching led off with a pair of hits back up the middle. Tiare singled and was on her way to stealing second when Kiele doubled off the second base bag. Tiare came into score on the play, and Kiele took third before scoring on a wild pitch.

Infield singles from Lakewood's Izzy Rueda and Julia Miramontes set the table for Calzada with two outs in the forth inning, and she blasted a triple to right center field to cap the scoring.

Poly starter Nyla Springer (7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 4 R, 5 K) also pitched strong down the stretch and retired the last seven batters she faced.

“Playing in a competitive league prepares us for Division 4 playoffs,” Sanches-Martin said. “Now it’s time to focus, regroup and take the mistakes we made today into our practices for the next two weeks.”

The last game of the Moore League regular season is Lakewood (11-5, 9-1) and Millikan (20-7, 9-1) next Thursday at Lisa Fernandez Field. The winner will take the league championship.

“I think we’re definitely ready,” Calzada said. “That last game left a bad taste in our mouths and we have a lot more determination in us and we’re not leaving that field without a win.”

Millikan beat Lakewood in their first meeting this year in walk-off fashion.

“We have really good chemistry off the field and that’s going to help us,” Berecochea said. “Whatever B.S. is put out there we don’t mind it and we just go out and play our game.”

VIDEO: Lakewood vs. Long Beach Poly, 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.