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Long Beach Poly Softball

CIF Softball: Long Beach Poly’s Historic Season Ends in Quarterfinals

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

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 Long Beach Poly softball team’s historic season came to an end on Thursday at Joe Rodgers, as the Jackrabbits ran into a team with a special talent in the circle. It was the Jackrabbits’ first-ever trip to the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals, but they were knocked out of the Division 4 bracket by Fullerton High and star freshman pitcher Malaya Majam-Finch. The Jackrabbits had their chances but couldn’t capitalize in the 3-0 loss.

“We’re proud,” said an emotional Poly coach Elizabeth Sanches-Martin. “These are happy tears. It was a historic season for these girls, they fought and clawed and made the best out of what we had.”

The late-game magic wasn’t there for the Jackrabbits in this one, as Majam-Finch was good enough to stifle Poly’s explosive offense. Majam-Finch has pitched three complete games in the playoffs for Fullerton and has yet to give up a run; she yielded just two hits and struck out eight while not giving up a walk.

Majam-Finch is the niece of legendary USA Softball pitcher Jennie Finch, and her drop curve was spotting up perfectly all game.

“She was keeping the ball down, and it was down right before it reached the plate, she had great spin and great velocity,” said Sanches-Martin. “She’s an experienced pitcher, she’s a great pitcher.”

Poly got a first-inning double from freshman Kiele Ho-Ching, who was later moved to third, but Poly couldn’t get her home. Their best chance came in the bottom of the fourth when Ho-Ching led off with a single and would eventually reach third–but three groundouts ended the threat.

Fullerton struck twice against Poly pitcher Nyla Springer, who had a strong game in the circle as well. Back-to-back two-out singles opened the threat in the top of the third, then a two-RBI single by Andrea Montes De Oca made it 2-0. They added an insurance run in the top of the sixth.

The Jackrabbits now say goodbye to a talented senior class that includes Springer, Sakarah Buckner, and Daisy Martin.

“Out of our nine seniors only three are moving on to the next level, so six of our girls just played their last game,” said Sanches-Martin. “That’s hard. These seniors are the backbone of our program. But they understood their role from the get, and they never complained about it.”

The Jackrabbits will return a host of talented players including the Ho-Ching sisters Tiare and Kiele, as well as standout freshmen Emoni Lamsam and Janelle Morris. While there are big bats in that group and great defense as well, the Jackrabbits will be in search of an ace pitcher for 2024 and beyond.

VIDEO: Long Beach Poly vs. Fullerton, CIF Softball
PHOTOS: Long Beach Poly vs Fullerton CIF Softball
Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.