Warren gains first-place tie with Holmes

By Pat Turner

A year ago, Warren began the second-round battling Holmes for the District 28-6A lead. 

Although the Warriors made a gallant attempt at claiming the title, losses to Holmes and Brandeis enabled the Huskies to take the top spot.

Now, the Warriors find themselves in familiar territory again as they began Round Two sharing the lead with Holmes. That occurred this past week when Brennan handed the Huskies their first league loss. The Huskies (15-2, 9-1) overcame that 9-8 ninth-inning setback with a 9-5 win over O’Connor.

However, Holmes’ stumble enabled Warren (12-4, 9-1) to move into first place tie after plowing past Clark, 11-1, and following with a 3-1 victory over the team that helped them grab the share.

Warren, which reached the Region IV finals a year ago before losing to New Braunfels Canyon, is hoping this second round ends in their favor.

Experience and confidence are present since the Warriors return all but one player from a year ago. However, Holmes and Brennan (12-5, 6-3) sport the same credentials and have their sights set on the same prize.

Add that pressure, along with regular competition against the rest of 28-6A’s teams and the Warriors know they have work to do.

 “We’re happy to be here, but I am telling the girls we can’t get comfortable,” Warren coach Melanie Morales said. “If we win the rest of our games, we’ll be fine. But Everyone is going to play us hard and we have to be ready.”

Still being in that situation brings excitement, especially after the win over Brennan.

“This was a big win for us,” said Austin Germain, who triggered Warren’s come-from-behind victory over Brennan. “It showed us we can beat anyone. It showed we can rely on our team. What we do best is rely on each other.”

Prior to the meeting with Brennan, Warren collected nine hits and took advantage of five errors for its win over Clark.

Lauryn Hernandez provided much of the offensive pop, knocking in four runs while going 3 for 3 at the plate. Pitching was steady as usual as Annika Litterio limited Clark to three hits and struck out nine.

Litterio was sound on the mound against Brennan while hurling another three-hitter and fanning seven batters. This time, hits were harder to come by as Jadyn Abrego held the Warriors to three hits.

However, the Warriors made the most of their opportunities with three runs in the fifth inning.

Brennan owned a 1-0 lead after Alex Torres reached on an infield hit with one out in the fourth, stole second and third, before scoring on Sierra Schottler’s groundout.

Eventually, Warren had its big inning.

A walk put a Warren runner on base in the fifth, but that threat appeared to be fading after the Bears recorded two outs.

That’s when things turned Warren’s way. The Bears committed two errors and Germain roped a game tying single left. Shortly after, Germain displayed her aggressive baserunning tactics.

Hernandez beat out an infield hit to bring home the go-ahead run. On the throw, Germain saw an opportunity to score and made it work.

“We were confident,” Germain said. “When (Brennan) made the two errors we said we had to capitalize on it. I was thinking if I got a hit that would give us opportunity for more runs. I was able to get two bases out of it. When I saw the throw (on the play) I knew I could score.”

Warren looks to keep the momentum going this week. The Warriors play O’Connor Tuesday, before facing Holmes.

“We feel more confident now,” Germaine said. “We’re not rookies anymore. We have more experience.”

Holmes came close to remaining unbeaten in district play after staging a gallant comeback.

Brennan leaped to an 8-1 with the biggest blow coming in the first inning when the Bears used Abrego’s grand slam for a 5-0 advantage.

Holmes whittled away at the deficit and tied the score at 8-all with Alyssa Rojas ignited a three-rally by lashing a two-run double and crossing the plate on a wild pitch.

The Huskies’ rally sent the game into extra innings, but Brennan ended up pulling off the victory when Shottler led the ninth with a triple and scored on Alexia Camacho’s sacrifice fly.

Holmes rebounded quickly by erupting for a 9-1 lead over O’Connor after two innings.

O’Connor pushed across a run during its first at-bat, but Holmes countered with three in the bottom half on Erykah Guerrero’s RBI single and Desiree Rojas’ two-run double.

Holmes developed a bigger cushion as another two-run double from Rojas and one by Jimmie Lee Garcia ignited a six-run second.

Despite the loss to Holmes, O’Connor is holding 28-6A’s fourth playoff spot after beginning the week with a 6-0 win over Stevens.

Gabby Katz and Rebecca O’Connor combined for a three-hitter, while receiving the needed offensive and defensive backing.

The Panthers got a run in the second on Dani Pedraza’s single and struck again in the fifth when Toni Espinoza doubled and scored on Olivia Ball’s sacrifice fly.

After tagging Stevens for a run in the sixth on an error, O’Connor blew the game open with three more in the seventh.

Ball highlighted the effort by lacing a run-scoring double and stealing home. The Panthers’ other run came home on a fielder’s choice.

Brandeis and Marshall remained in the playoff hunt.

Brandeis dropped a 5-4 decision to Taft but came back with a 10-0 victory over Stevens. Taft recorded 5-2 wins over Jay and Taft.

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