POLA High Softball Wins 11-Inning War On Allison Torstensen Heroics

No one said it was going to be easy for Port Of Los Angeles High softball.

Gone are the days of when they ran roughshod in the Coliseum League when they had the likes of Nicolle Miranda, Kelsea Short, Allison Bayer, Savana Ramirez, Brianna Grayson, Rose Garcia and Analise De La Roca running amok and causing havoc, winning every league game they competed in with little to no problems at all.

Everyone in league was coming hard for the Polar Bears the moment the league play began in 2018. The 84-game league win streak came to a close on April 4 at Stevenson Park in Carson when King-Drew Medical of Los Angeles won a 12-11 showdown that took 13 innings to complete. From that point on, everyone in the Coliseum League was salivating now and prepared to make the Polar Bears an endangered species. 

After their long league win streak at home was also snapped with a stunning 10-8 loss to View Park of Los Angeles on April 19 at Leland Park, that put POLA's string of consecutive league championships in jeopardy as well.

Well after Friday, that streak is still very much alive.

With two outs in the bottom of the eleventh inning in yet another classic showdown with visiting King-Drew who planned to bury POLA's seven-year reign atop the Coliseum League, junior first baseman Allison Torstensen would lift the Polar Bears from their apparent grave with an RBI-single to drive home Yolanda Racaza for a 10-9 victory, knocking the pesky Golden Eagles out of first place, and putting POLA (12-4 overall, 11-2 league) back into a first-place tie with View Park.

The Polar Bears can capture a share of an eighth straight Coliseum League championship on Wednesday at Fremont.

King-Drew (13-9, 10-2) would jump on POLA early with a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but the Polar Bears quickly tied it with a two-run single from sophomore center fielder Briana Vigil, followed by a RBI-groundout from freshman catcher Larissa Mercado, in which her sister, sophomore third baseman Angelina Mercado scored on with an aggressive slide.

Senior P/LF Angie Vargas would put POLA on top for the first time with a booming solo home run to right-center field with one out in the second inning for a 4-3 lead before the Golden Eagles tied it with a run in the third inning. 

POLA then take an 8-5 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning with three runs, sparked by another RBI-single from Vigil during the inning, but an error-filled top of the sixth inning allowed King-Drew to even the score at 8-8, which stayed that way until the top of the ninth inning when the Golden Eagles took their final lead at 9-8. Sophomore second baseman Tori Palomino lead off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double before advancing to third on a passed ball and scoring on Racaza's groundout to second base, evening the score once again.

In the top of the eleventh inning, King-Drew's first batter reached base, but after a fly out to Vigil at center field, the Golden Eagles tried for a slap bunt, but it was popped up right to Angelina Mercado, who then fired to Torstensen at first to double off the runner there for a 5-3 double play, ending the inning.

Vargas led off the bottom of the eleventh inning with a walk, then was sacrificed to second with a bunt by Palomino, then was forced out on a pickle for the second out on a ground ball hit by Racaza, who advanced to second during the pickle.

Finally, Torstensen stepped in for the win as she blasted the first pitch she saw into left field for a base hit, and Racaza slid home safely as the throw from left field was way offline, giving the Polar Bears the victory, avenging their earlier defeat to the Golden Eagles.

POLA used four different pitchers in Vargas, seniors Noelany Benitez and starter Sienna Valencia, along with freshman Faith Torstensen, who pitched solidly in the sixth in relief of Benitez, and retiring eight batters in a row until the top of the ninth inning when Vargas re-entered and eventually becoming the winning pitcher of record, hurling five innings, allowing two runs and striking out five batters.

Torstensen finished 2-for-4 with the winning RBI, Vigil also went 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs, Palomino was 2-for-5, Angelina Mercado scored twice and Racaza also had an RBI.

All in all, this was one of the best games of the season, as POLA continues play in the El Segundo Tournament on Saturday with a CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I semifinal rematch with Banning of Wilmington.

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