SPHS Softball Withstands Early Blow, Beats Narbonne

It hasn't been a good run as of late for San Pedro High softball in games against legit CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I teams.

The Pirates, after winning 13 straight games, would go 0-4 against the likes of defending champion Carson, Banning of Wilmington, and of course, twin defeats, one narrow and another demoralizing, to the new Division I kid on the block, crosstown neighbor Port Of Los Angeles. 

Once Narbonne of Harbor City junior catcher Sonia Escalera blasted a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the first inning, a feeling of deja vu began to creep in the heads of San Pedro.

However, this resilient bunch would not surrender easily, let alone allow another potential shocker against the Gauchos happen like last year's game at San Pedro, where left-handed pitcher Kaitlin Buff befuddled the Pirates in every way imaginable with 13 strikeouts in a 2-1 win for Narbonne, their first over San Pedro since 1997.

With a trying April now fully behind them, San Pedro would not only get three clutch hits when they needed them combined with four Narbonne errors, they did exactly what they wanted to do, not split with the Gauchos.

The end result was a 7-2 Marine League victory for the Pirates as they prepare for a critical week next week with road games at Carson on May 6, and Banning on May 9 as they try to clinch a potential first round game at home for the City Section Division I playoffs.

Despite the early home run from Escalera, San Pedro senior pitcher Jocelyn Kondash pitched a rare complete game that was tantamount to the success of the Pirates (17-6 overall, 4-2 league), as she hurled a five-hitter with two walks and a season-high of seven strikeouts.

"I had to focus on the fundamentals," said Kondash on her mental approach in the circle after Escalera's home run. "If I give 100% on the mound, it sets the tone for the rest of the team."

Kondash ended the game in style by striking out Narbonne sophomore right fielder Paisley Aroujo, which was promptly followed by junior catcher Alexa Ponce firing a bullet to fellow junior second baseman Johnie Cortez to erase Narbonne junior courtesy runner Jailka Dixon for a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play.

""I was so angry that I let (Narbonne courtesy runner Anika Baker) steal on me, so I wasn't going to let another runner do it," Ponce said on the game-ending play. "And I was so proud of Jocelyn for throwing so good and accurate."

San Pedro had several chances to score off Buff, now a sophomore, but didn't capitalize in the bottom of the first inning with a two-out bases loaded situation as Cortez's fielder's choice ended the inning, allowing the Gauchos (6-11, 2-4) to get out of the inning unscathed. With one out in the bottom of the second inning, the Pirates loaded the bases again, but junior left fielder Cayla Ezelle lined out to set up Ponce.

With the count 1-and-1, Ponce drilled a single to right field to drive home senior shortstop Angelina Boskovich and senior center fielder Doreen Corella that evened the score at 2-2, then the biggest hit of the day came courtesy junior third baseman Taylor Richter.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Ezelle legged out an infield single as she beat the throw to first from Narbonne junior shortstop Audrina Villela. Ponce then reached on a fielding error, setting the stage for Richter, who then blasted a perfect shot down the left field line for a triple that drove in Ezelle and freshman courtesy runner Andrea Trejo that put San Pedro ahead for the first time at 4-2.

"I knew I had to score the runs for our team and break the tie," Richter said.

Cortez would score a fifth run in the bottom of the fifth inning off a wild pitch, then Boskovich's two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning that drove home Richter and freshman designated player Andrea Cline would effectively put the game out of reach for San Pedro.

Richter, who hit two home runs in an earlier league win over Washington on Tuesday, is starting to heat up in going 2-for-4 with the two-RBI triple, and a run scored for San Pedro, and Ponce went 2-for-4 with two RBIs as well. Corella also went 2-for-4 for the Pirates, who will finish off El Segundo Tournament play on Saturday with two games, starting with the fifth-place semifinal against Santa Monica at 9 am.

"I'm excited to see my team give it their all throughout the entire game," Kondash said. "We are a very good team and I know that if we play to our full potential, we can accomplish anything."

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