'A Champions Comparison': 2013 POLA Softball vs. 2017 San Pedro Softball

Both started their seasons in Redondo Beach, California.

Both came out of the gate slow.

Both competed in Las Vegas, Nevada over spring break.

Both finished strong.

Both ended their seasons in Carson, California as champions.

I want to make a little ‘champion’s comparison’ if you will on the last two CIF-Los Angeles City Section championship winning softball teams I covered that both won their respective divisional crowns at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

The 2013 Port Of Los Angeles High softball team was an instant favorite in Division III and they definitely played the part. Although the Crosstown League was nowhere near competitive to their liking (a 25-0, five-inning win over rival Harbor Teacher Prep at Los Angeles Harbor College not withstanding), they still didn't play to the level of competition. Even so, POLA still challenged themselves by competing in the Redondo Union, Las Vegas Spring Jamboree, Torrance National and El Segundo Tournaments, even knocking off some strong programs such as Verrado of Arizona, Bishop Gorman of Nevada, Empire of Arizona, Redondo Union and Banning of Wilmington along the way. The playoffs were a mere formality as they defeated New Designs, Legacy, Valley Academy Of Arts & Sciences and previously unbeaten Northridge Academy by a combined 66-4 margin, finishing as the mythical Division V-based state champions by Cal-Hi Sports after capturing a third consecutive CIF championship. POLA's 16-3 victory over Northridge Academy in the Division 3 final was one of the most lopsided title clashes I ever witnessed, and POLA has competed in Division 1 ever since, reaching the semifinals four consecutive seasons to further enhance the program's reputation.The Polar Bears, who finished 28-8 overall in 2013, were so dominant in Division 3, that they garnered a dozen All-City selections, ending the year with six straight victories and 25 wins in their final 28 games after starting the 2013 season at 3-5.

The 2017 San Pedro High softball team wasn't even considered among the best teams in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section to begin the year, let alone the best team in their own backyard. After all, the Pirates were in uncharted territory after three straight first round playoff exits, something this proud program that produced four former players who competed in the NCAA Women's College World Series (Wynter Turner, Perelini Koria, Kailee Cuico, Koral Costa) and three San Pedro Sportswalk Of Fame inductees (Louise Figlewicz-Quick, Victoria Brucker, Ashley Esparza), never experienced before. In fact, the Pirates even stumbled early out of the gate but still managed to show signs of past Pirate glory. Once mid-March hit, and crucial back-to-back victories over West Torrance and Banning in consecutive days was seized, the script got flipped in the direction they wanted to go. From that point on the Pirates went on an incredible joyride to their first Marine League championship since 2010, before confidently knocking off Lincoln, Carson and San Fernando in the first three rounds before encountering Banning a third time for the Division 1 championship. San Pedro would mount one final comeback to win 2-1 and capture the storied program's 17th CIF title, finishing the year 25-9-1 overall, a ten-game winning streak, and 18 wins in their final 20 games.

So with all that said, let the comparison begin!

 

Nicolle Miranda releases a pitch during the first inning against Northridge Academy in the 2013 CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division III finals at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

2013 POLA HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL CIF CHAMPIONSHIP GAME BATTING ORDER
No.1 #11 Sarah Maldonado CF, jr. (.307 BA, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 27 Hits, 31 Runs, 11-for-11 SB)

No.2 #16 Emily Ibarra DP, fr. (.379 BA, 0 HR, 21 RBI, 22 Hits, 25 Runs)
No.3 #7 Nicolle Miranda P, soph. (.442 BA, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 42 Hits, 30 Runs; 21-8 Record; 1.88 ERA, 205 Ks)
No.4 #2 Kelsea Short SS, jr. (.422 BA, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 35 Hits, 36 Runs, 6 2B, 4 3B)

No.5 #12 Allison Bayer 1B, jr. (.444 BA, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 44 Hits, 45 Runs, 14 2B, 2 3B)
No.6 #99 Savana Ramirez 3B, soph. (.443 BA, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 47 Hits, 43 Runs, 11 2B, 3 3B)
No.7 #15 Brianna Grayson C, sr. (.337 BA, 2 HR, 32 RBI, 28 Hits, 41 Runs, 5 2B, 4 3B)
No.8 #30 Rose Garcia 2B, soph. (.404 BA, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 38 Hits, 37 Runs, 12 2B, 4 3B)
No.9 #10 Briana Valencia RF, soph. (.352 BA, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 25 Hits, 38 Runs, 2 2B)
Flex. #9 Tiffany Torres LF, soph. (.382 BA, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 29 Hits, 29 Runs)

Key Reserves: #14 Vanessa Munoz, fr., #00 Adriana Vargas, soph., #22 Laura Leos, soph., #3 Tiffany Mercado, soph.

Coaches: Melissa & Moses Espinoza.

Record: 28-8 overall, 12-0 Crosstown League

Quality Wins: Arizona Verrado, Nevada Bishop Gorman, Arizona Empire, Wilmington Banning, Redondo Union.

 

Ricki Justiniano connects on her game-tying RBI-single with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning against Banning during the 2017 CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I finals at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

2017 SAN PEDRO HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL CIF CHAMPIONSHIP GAME BATTING ORDER
No.1 #0 Andrea Trejo CF, sr. (.287 BA, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 25 Hits, 24 Runs, 3 2B, 2 3B)
No.2 #15 Mackenzie Winkle 2B, sr. (.400 BA, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 30 Hits, 12 Runs, 4 2B)
No.3 #21 Ricki Justiniano 3B, sr. (.375 BA, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 36 Hits, 26 Runs, 11 2B, 1 3B)
No.4 #13 Andrea Cline C, sr. (.393 BA, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 35 Hits, 11 Runs, 9 2B, 2 3B)
No.5 #25 Brianna Talamantes 1B, fr. (.297 BA, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 19 Hits, 18 Runs, 4 2B, 1 3B)
No.6 #7 Taiya Reyna LF, jr. (.341 BA, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 28 Hits, 19 Runs, 4 2B, 1 3B)
No.7 #88 Deanna Gonzalez SS, sr. (.353 BA, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 30 Hits, 16 Runs, 5 2B, 1 3B)
No.8 #42 Anessa Quiroz DP, jr. (.355 BA, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 27 Hits, 20 Runs, 9 2B, 3 3B)
No.9 #10 Kierah Murillo RF, jr. (.143 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 4 Hits, 4 Runs, 1 2B)
Flex: #3 Cindy Robles P, sr. (19-6 Record, 1.81 ERA, 198 Ks)

Key Reserves: #33 Briana Velazquez, fr., #24 Sofia Gomez, fr., #32 Quincy Greenwood, jr., #55 Hannae Seller, jr.

Coach: Robert Whitney.

Record: 25-9-1 overall, 9-1 Marine League

Quality Wins: West Torrance, North Torrance, San Fernando, Carson 2x, Wilmington Banning 3x.

 

Analysis: Of course the hitting statistics for POLA are a lot magnified due to the lack of competition in the Crosstown League in 2013, but that doesn’t change the fact they could definitely swing the bat. In their 6-2 victory over Bishop Gorman in the Torrance National Tournament, Miranda and Bayer both clubbed two-run home runs over the fence, a first (& second) in program history. POLA as I stated earlier, garnered twelve – yes, THAT MANY – All-City selections in 2013 (everyone mentioned in this comparison but Mercado), including the Pitcher (Miranda) & Player Of The Year (Bayer). With Grayson (a three-time CIF champion along with Bayer, Short & Maldonado) being the lone senior on this 2013 POLA team, that meant this team was young & extremely dangerous. Garcia was a spark plug at the plate, while Ibarra, Torres and Maldonado gave POLA three left-handed hitters in the starting lineup, something a lot of teams didn't possess. San Pedro was fueled by senior leadership & dogged determination in 2017, and had multiple contributors who knew how to do all the little things necessary for them to bring a title back to their program after an eight-year absence. Robles (two-time All-City), Justiniano (two-time All-City) and Gonzalez had career years, eventual CIF-LACS Division 1 Player Of The Year Cline was unshakable in the clutch (extra inning HR at Banning, extra-inning walk-off double vs. Carson), while Reyna, Quiroz and Trejo solidified a sensational outfield. Talamantes and Murillo both upped their game in the playoffs as well, and Winkle was an all-around force. I think the 2013 POLA team would have the edge in speed since they took more chances in stealing bases than the 2017 San Pedro team did, but it would be hard to bet against the 2017 Pirates in all other facets. The most solid position out of the starters is definitely third base with Ramirez and Justiniano. The 2013 Miranda and the 2017 Robles matchup would be one pitcher’s duel I’d pay to see.

Who would YOU take between these two powerhouse teams? 

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