San Pedro High Softball Advances To 2nd Straight CIF Final

SUN VALLEY - Left for dead in late March during the Las Vegas Spring Jamboree Tournament at Spring Break.

Made a change at the top in early April by bringing back a legendary coach.

Losing their Marine League championship in the early part of May, having more than their fair share of doubters as they were the last of eight teams chosen to participate in the inaugural CIF-Los Angeles City Section Open Division playoffs and having to face the top seed right from the beginning, and were given little if any chance to even move on to at least the semifinal round.

After all of that, the San Pedro High softball team is once again one of the last two teams standing with a chance to defend their hard-earned CIF-LACS championship of just 361 days ago.

With the Pirates triumphing 8-4 over host and fourth-seeded Polytechnic of Sun Valley on Tuesday in the CIF-LACS Open Division finals, a sleeping giant has been fully awoke, and San Pedro gets to return to yet another final in their 44-year history, their 24th to be exact (17 CIF titles won in 23 final appearances) when they will face second-seeded Chatsworth on Saturday, 4:15 pm at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson.

Bringing back Tony Dobra, a winner of 736 games and 13 CIF-LACS crowns in 34 years of coaching (28 years at San Pedro) to be the interim coach, replacing Robert Whitney, turned out to be one of the best moves ever as San Pedro (19-14-1 overall) was mired in another turbulent start to the 2018 season.

Even so, San Pedro still found themselves trailing Poly (24-8), the East Valley League champions, 1-0 after three innings as senior left-hander Vivian Little induced several pop outs, and struck out three, only allowing a one-out single in the second inning to senior designated player Quincy Greenwood and a pair of walks. However, San Pedro would eventually get to Little in the fourth inning.

It all got started with sophomore first baseman Brianna Talamantes blistering a ground-rule double, then she would score on freshman third baseman Sierra Sandoval's one-out double. Greenwood walked and freshman second baseman Jo Jo Krause delivered a bunt single down the first base line to load the bases.

With two outs in the top of the fourth, senior shortstop Taiya Reyna drew a four-pitch walk to force in Sandoval and put San Pedro up 2-1, and then, the bombs would start to ignite. 

On a 1-and-1 pitch, San Pedro senior catcher, and Monroe College-bound Anessa Quiroz belted a towering double over the center fielder's head for a three-run double, scoring Krause, Greenwood and Reyna and putting the Pirates ahead 5-1, and then courtesy runner Kierah Murillo scored off a double by sophomore pitcher Briana Velazquez. Suddenly, it was 6-1 in San Pedro's favor, but the Parrots would not back down easily.

A sacrifice fly by senior Jazelle Salguero followed by Sandoval's two-base throwing error on a ground ball hot shot from sophomore Marissa Sanchez with two outs in the fifth plated three runs for Poly and cut San Pedro's lead to 6-4. All that did was add a little more fuel to the fire of the Pirates, especially Velazquez.

In the top of the sixth inning, the sensational Velazquez would chase Little off the pitcher's circle with a towering first-pitch two run home run with one out for the game's final two runs, and that was all San Pedro needed from there as Poly would never threaten again.

Although tagged for ten hits, Velazquez (2-for-4, 3 RBI) still hurled a complete game win with eight strikeouts, walking one and hitting two batters for San Pedro, who got a 3-for-4 hitting day with an RBI for Sandoval. In all, San Pedro also had ten hits, nine of them off Little (5 walks), who along with junior Chantal Avila went 3-for-4 at the plate for the Parrots.

The victory allowed Dobra to set an atonement for losing 5-4 to Polytechnic in a rare first round home playoff loss in 2014 which led to his retirement a week later, and the current Pirates to also gain retribution for a 4-3 loss to the Parrots on March 10 in a Lincoln Classic game at San Fernando High.

With this improbable run, San Pedro knows their work is far from finished. It's one final game with a chance to repeat last year's awesome run to a 17th CIF championship. 

Only West Valley League champion Chatsworth, a 4-2 winner over El Camino Real, stands in the Pirates' way.

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