Screenshot 2023 04 27 At 11.02.10 Pm
Lakewood Millikan Softball

Softball: Millikan Beats Lakewood, Wins Third Straight Moore League Championship

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.

The Millikan and Lakewood Moore League softball rivalry played at Lisa Fernandez Field has been defined by close games and thrilling finishes, but Thursday’s regular season was different.

Millikan emphatically beat Lakewood 8-1 to win its third consecutive league championship.

“It just means so much to this group because all of us seniors who came here (as freshman) the first time playing Lakewood we won, so to do it in the same dugout, the same uniforms, same pitcher it just felt great,” Millikan senior Erica Estrada said. “We’ve been together since freshman year and to do it with the same girls… we just did it for each other.”

Millikan starting pitcher Victoria Byrum was phenomenal in the circle where she went the distance while giving up two hits, two walks and striking out 13 Lancers.

“I definitely was in control, but I did throw a little bit angry,” Byrum said. “It’s rivalry. It helped. It was good anger.”

The Rams (21-7, 11-1) jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the first two innings. They also scored four times in the seventh inning to put the game away.

“We’re a better team,” Millikan coach Michelle Lehr said. “We have so much depth and the talent is unbelievable this year. Lakewood plays with a lot of heart and they wear it on their sleeves, you can see it in everything that they do, so my fear was their grit and passion would beat us tonight. But (our girls) came in like they wanted to beat Lakewood as much as they wanted to beat us.”

Emily Hanniff, Estrada and Katie Knarr led off the game with three consecutive singles in the top of the first inning. Knarr’s hit scored Hanniff, and an error scored Estrada.

“Coming into this game we were like, ‘We’re being aggressive. There’s no doubt about it that we should win this game and we should blow them out.’ So, that’s what we did.”

Hanniff and Estrada combined for five hits and four runs scored.

“I think the tension between us and Lakewood was so much that we both wanted it so bad and this was really a game of who wanted it more, and we wanted it more,” Hanniff said.

Small ball helped the Rams tack on another run in the second inning when Robin Garcia led off with a single, took second on a sacrifice bunt, took third on a fielder’s choice and scored on Hanniff’s infield single.

“Emily has been lights out for us in the (leadoff) spot all year,” Lehr said. “She ignites the girls in the dugout.”


With a 3-0 lead it was easy for Byrum to settle into the game. She struck out a pair in the first and second inning when she stranded two runners in scoring position. Byrum, who has a 1.086 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 38.2 league innings this season, missed almost two weeks of the season (including the first game against Lakewood) while dealing with a personal issue. But she threw bullpens for six straight days preparing for this game.

“She absolutely powered through,” Lehr said of Byrum. “That girl works when she does her bullpens. She focuses on every single pitch. She doesn’t get distracted by side conversations with people. She knows she throws her best when she puts a lot of work in, and she absolutely dealt tonight.”

“Honestly, I’ve been in this spot before so I knew if I worked my butt off it would definitely pay off on the field,” Byrum said. “Mentally I was just very nervous, but I was like, ‘You know what, leave it all on the field in the last Moore League game on this field,’ so I just gave it my all and was thinking positive the whole time.”

Byrum struck out six straight batters in the sixth and seventh innings while closing out the win. She had relied on her fast ball and rise ball early, but got most of her strikeouts late with her screwball and curveball.

“I’m just living in the moment with all of my best friends… It’s amazing,” she added.

“She was lights out and she’s always been,” Estrada said of Byrum. “It felt great that her trust in us behind her back was there today.”

Millikan first baseman Katie Knarr thinks the big boisterous crowd was something her team dealt with well.

“Obviously everyone has nerves, with a big crowd and a big game, but we just focused on where our feet are and not letting the moment get too big,” she said. “I just tried to black out (the crowd noise) to stay in the game.”

“This is a huge deal,” Hanniff said of winning a third consecutive league title. “Us seniors, we’ve ridden it out all together and it’s just the most amazing feeling.”

Lakewood (15-9-1, 10-2) scored its only run in the fifth inning when Kaleyse Foster drove in Cat Calzada with two outs. However, Byrum killed the rally with another strikeout.

Millikan third baseman Ari Ramirez had a hit and two RBI. Second baseman Shorty Wright had a 2-RBI double in the seventh inning. Freshman Addy Everett also had an RBI for the Rams.

CIF Southern Section playoff brackets will be released on Saturday morning. 

VIDEO: 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.