Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Softball: Santos’ Big Day Earns Conquerors Dugard Classic Title (4/7/18)

Los Altos of Hacienda Heights celebrates its 7-4 win over Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the Alan Dugard Classic championship game on April 7, 2018. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

Los Altos of Hacienda Heights looked like it was done for after giving up four runs in the first inning before recording the first out. Sacred Heart-bound Brianna Santos didn’t want that to happen and she made sure it didn’t happen.

The Conquerors were nearly perfect the rest of the game and scored seven unanswered runs to complete 7-4 comeback victory over Mater Dei of Santa Ana and take the Alan Dugard Classic title on Saturday evening at Deanna Manning Stadium at Bill Barber Park in Irvine.

Sacred Heart-bound Brianna Santos of Los Altos of Hacienda Heights. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

Mater Dei, ranked No. 5 in So Cal and No. 3 in Orange County by So Cal Sidelines, got off to a quick start thanks to back-to-back infield singles by UCLA-bound Kelli Godin and Tennessee-commit Nyomi Jones followed by a double steal to put both runners in scoring position for Virginia-bound Donna Friedman, who hit a ground ball to the shortstop. Jones was caught in a pickle and made it to third base after Godin beat the throw home, which moved Friedman to second base. Notre Dame-bound Emma Clark hit a bouncer to the mound, but got on first base after Jones distracted Los Altos (16-2) pitcher Savannah Diederich, who signed with Ole Miss, to get the bases loaded. Sabrina Rivera doubled to center field to empty the bases and make it 4-0. Mater Dei (16-4) would only get one more hit off of Diederich, who threw a complete game and struck out four.

“I think Vanny (Diederich) settled down,” Los Altos coach Lydell McCullough said. “Mater Dei is a great team and they can put a lot of pressure on you, but Vanny settled down, hit her spots and had them popping out a lot. We had to make an adjustment offensively. We were popping up a lot early in the game. They had a drop ball pitcher and we worked to get her all day and move forward.”

Los Altos, ranked No. 11 in So Cal and No. 3 in Los Angeles, would threaten in the fourth inning after Santos singled to center field to put runners on corners with no outs, but Mikayla Ceballos’ grounder right to the third base put Jocylyn Vidal in a pickle and was tagged out at home.

Mikayla Ceballos of Los Altos of Hacienda Heights. Photo/Manny Alvarez.

The Conquerors finally get on the scoreboard the next inning thanks to back-to-back one-out singles by Holy Cross-bound Bailey Chavez and Melissa Felix. The bases were loaded after Kelly Monroy was hit by a pitch. Mia Pintado ran for Monroy. Vidal hit a ground ball to second base, but Chavez beat the throw home to score Los Altos’ first run of the game. Santos singled to center field, scoring Felix and Pintado to get the Conquerors within one run. Santos hit got her team going.

“I had to keep thinking with confidence,” Santos said. “We had to believe in ourselves. I really wanted to win this game and I tried my best to pump everyone up. It really helped the team out and I’m glad I contributed to this win.”

Los Altos picked up where it left off in the sixth inning with back-to-back one-out singles by Diederich and Chavez. The Conquerors finally took the lead after a passed ball scored pinch runner Anyssa Aguilar to tie the game. A failed suicide squeeze by Felix put Chavez in a pickle, but she avoided Friedman’s tag to score and give Los Altos the lead.

With Felix and Monroy on first and second base, Santos delivered more bad news to Mater Dei with a two-run double to center field to extend Los Altos lead and seal the championship win

“Brianna has been nails all season long,” McCullough said. “She’s been hitting the ball hard and has been leading the team in home runs. You see how hard she hits the ball, off the wall and down the line. She’s been having a terrific year. I’m really proud of her.”

Diederich got the win for Los Altos. Dani Alvarez threw one inning of relief for Mater Dei to draw the loss. Mater Dei heads to Trinity League play at Santa Margarita, ranked No. 8 in the OC, on Tuesday.

Chavez went 2 for 4 with a double, Felix, Monroy and Vidal each went 2 for 3 and Santos went 3 for 4 with a double and four RBI as Los Altos takes the momentum to the Hacienda League where it plays at Diamond Ranch of Pomona on Tuesday.

“We have to continue this confidence mindset,” Santos said. “We have to prove everyone wrong. This feels pretty good though. I’m excited.”

For now, Los Altos will celebrate its Dugard Classic title.

“This feels pretty good to be honest,” McCullough said. “We’re down 4-0 against a great team and we could have gave up, but we showed a lot of grit and fire. I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”

In the semifinals of the Dugard Classic:

Los Altos of Hacienda Heights 3, Marina of Huntington Beach 2: Ceballos hit a two-run home run in the second inning to put Los Altos on the board first, but Marina, ranked No. 13 in the OC, tied the game up the game in the third inning. Vidal hit an RBI double to center field to give the Conquerors (15-2) the edge to advance to the finals.

Ceballos went 2 for 2 with the two-run home run, Diederich threw a complete game two hitter to get the win for Los Altos.

“We had a great mentality,” Ceballos said. “We fought to the end. My mentality was hit hard and get on base. I just wanted to make contact.”

Nicole Logrecco drove in a run on a triple and Emily Rush threw six innings with six hits and three earned runs to take the loss for Marina (10-6).

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