Brennan, O’Connor take big steps in defining 6A softball playoff race

By Pat Turner

Things are starting to shape up in District 28-6A softball.

While league-leading Warren (17-4, 13-1) and Holmes (18-3, 12-2) have pretty much the title chase into a two-team bout, Brennan (15-6, 10-4) and O’Connor (10-6, 9-5) are closing in on the final two playoff spots.

With four games remaining, Brennan sits in the third spot, while O’Connor is holding onto fourth place. Brandeis (11-10, 7-7) and Marshall (9-12, 7-7) are hanging in there, but the Bears and Panthers stretched the margin this past week.

“We’re playing better,” O’Connor coach Caitlin Bollier said. “It comes with them working together and coming through their adversities. Everyone has a role and the players have bought into that. Once they did things have started to roll.”

Brennan took two giant steps. The Bears squeezed out a 3-2 win over Brandeis when Alexia Camacho broke a 2-2 tie with a solo home run.

That tight-knit contest may have prepared Brennan for its next contest, because the Bears were forced to go extra innings again to pull out a 7-3 win over Marshall.

Marshall also came into the contest with momentum from a 21-13 extra-inning win over Clark. In that contest the Rams broke a 13-13 tie with eight runs in the eighth.

The Rams sent the game into extras again by scoring three times in the fifth on a groundout and RBI singles from Trista Rivera and Madison Fernandez.

However, the Rams were unable to get the edge this time.

Brennan avoided becoming a walk-off victim by escaping the seventh inning where Marshall had the winning run in scoring position.

The Bears got a little more comfort with a four-run surge in the eighth,

Alex Torres began the inning by lofting a single to left, stealing second and scoring on Hailey Neira’s single to left.

After Sierra’s Schottler singled, Gabby Torres moved the runners to second and third. Camacho came through with a two-run double and scored on an error.

O’Connor’s week began convincingly as the Panthers pounded out a 10-0 win over Taft. The Panthers made the most of five errors and relied on the bat of Leighann Goode, who drove in three runs while going 2 for 3.

The meeting with Brandeis was much more intense as the Panthers had to work overtime to pull out a 4-3 inning victory.

O’Connor appeared to be in good shape after building a 3-0 lead. Jordan Alejandro’s run-scoring triple and Goode’s single in the fifth led to two runs. Another tally came in the sixth when Ella Gonzales doubled and scored on a fielder’s choice.

In addition, the Panthers received quality pitching from Sammy Portillo, who allowed one hit and recorded 12 of her 16 strikeouts through the first five innings.

However, Brandeis started showing signs of offensive life in the sixth as back-to-back doubles by Arianna Villa and Maria Delgado pulled the Broncos within a run.

Brandeis then plated the tying run in the seventh on an infield hit.

O’Connor overcame the adversity with a run in the eighth with Gabby Guzman’s RBI double.

“We spend a lot of time talking about resiliency,” Bollier said. “We know there’s going to be highs and lows, but we have to be steady. Their game plan is to be steady. They did in this game.”

Warren, Holmes

Warren and Holmes continue to remain steady.

Warren received top-notch pitching and plenty of bat support in its 14-0 zapping of Stevens and 8-0 blanking of Jay.

Annika Litterio struck out 10 batters during a two-hit performance against Jay. She also teamed with Anissa Arredondo with a two-hitter while striking out eight in the four-inning contest against Stevens.

Litterio also helped the offense, which also included big hits from Austin Germain, who belted a home run against Stevens, Dynasty Harpel, Tori Jimenez, Cassie Davis and Allie Cruz.

Holmes used home runs from Erykah Guerrero, Desiree Rojas and Ariana Martinez to zip to a 13-1 over Jay.

During a 6-1 win over Taft, Ariana Martinez led off the game with a home run and broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run blast in the third.

Jalissa Alicea fired a two-hitter with eight strikeouts.

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