It's A Grand Slam Winner For San Pedro High Softball

It's the kind of finish that seemingly becomes a trademark for San Pedro High softball, and the stuff that dreams are made of.
The latest installment of the Harbor Area showdown between the host Pirates and Banning of Wilmington was like a heavyweight bout in the seventh inning, with both teams delivering body punches, but when it was all said and done, the defending CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I champions would deliver the final blow.
Surrendering back-to-back home runs in the top of the seventh inning, San Pedro sophomore pitcher Briana Velazquez would watch in the dugout, just hoping and praying she would get her last chance to get her ultimate redemption. When she finally got the opportunity, Velazquez would get her moment.
Boy did she ever seize it.
Not wasting the moment, most specifically the first pitch from Banning's sensational sophomore left-hander Angelina Devoe, Velazquez would show a great piece of hitting as she hammered the offering to deep right field all the way over the fence for a walk-off grand slam home run to lift San Pedro to a 10-7 Marine League victory over Banning.
That majestic blast was just a variation of what has become a theme for Velazquez, as she now has two walk-off game-winning home runs this season, and 11 home runs total for the Pirates (17-14-1 overall, 7-3 league), who finish in a second place tie in league with the Pilots (19-10-1, 7-3), who had won the first meeting, 10-5 on April 17.
And to think that moment would almost never come as the seventh inning began.
Velazquez was cruising in the circle, allowing just two hits in the first five innings with nine strikeouts before Banning finally solved her on a RBI-single from Cal State Fullerton-bound Jayda Su'e that dropped in front of San Pedro sophomore first baseman Brianna Talamantes and freshman second baseman Jo Jo Krause for a 3-1 San Pedro lead in the top of the sixth.
San Pedro would answer with two runs in the bottom of the sixth with Velazquez's RBI-single to center followed by Talamantes' RBI-sacrifice fly, but down 5-1, the Pilots were far from finished.
Three singles from juniors Sarahy Martinez and Jazlene Galvan followed by a one-out single from senior center fielder Rena Flores would load the bases for Banning. Velazquez would strike out sophomore shortstop Nayelly Martinez for the second out of the top of the seventh, but then the big bats were coming in hard.
First, Devoe would hit a two-run single to center field, then Su'e would pump a three-run home run just over the center field fence, and suddenly Banning was in the lead for the first time. Junior right fielder Gladys Garcia would follow suit with a solo home run to center, and just like that the Pilots were in front, 7-5 before the inning finally ended.
For what Banning was able to do in the top of the seventh inning, San Pedro would raise their game to usual heights in the bottom half.
With one out, freshman third baseman Sierra Sandoval belted a double to left field, then advanced to third on Krause's single. Sophomore center fielder Sofia Gomez would strike out looking for the second out, but that gave the top of the order one last shot against Devoe.
Senior shortstop Taiya Reyna, who hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, would somehow work a four-pitch walk to load the bases, setting up a duel between Devoe and San Pedro senior catcher Anessa Quiroz, who has hit two walk-off game winners in her high school career.
In what was the most tense moment of the game, the count was full, and Devoe's pitch was just a bit high and outside for the critical ball four. Sandoval scores on the clutch walk drawn by Quiroz to cut Banning's lead to 7-6.
And the rest, as the old saying goes, was history.
Velazquez would then end the vintage San Pedro softball comeback with her opposite field grand slam, as she would become just the second Pirate to hit a game-winning walk-off home run on campus, and the first since the infamous 15th inning walk-off bomb from Holly Stevens to defeat Carson in 2006. Velazquez also hit two game-winning home runs on March 20 in a doubleheader sweep of Palos Verdes, the second one being her first career walk-off.
Su'e went 2-for-4 with 4 RBIs to pace Banning, who also got a crucial 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored from Flores. Velazquez in all went 3-for-4 with the grand slam and 5 RBIs to power San Pedro, while Quiroz went 2-for-3, and Sandoval with 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, which was her single down the left field line in the second inning for the game's first run.
Yet it was the game's final five runs in the final inning that would make all the difference for San Pedro, who will now await their fate in the CIF-LACS playoffs on Saturday if they're either going to the new Open Division or begin their defense of last year's Division I crown.

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