East County Sports

Prepared Patriots close title deal

Christian High players display their championship patches during the postgame celebrations at UCSD Saturday.



By Adam Paul
© East County Sports.com


LA JOLLA (5-29-16) — Taking advantage of the opportunities presented was the theme of the day and the No. 1 Christian Patriots certainly did that against the No. 3 La Jolla Vikings in the Division IV championship game at UCSD.

The Patriots used each opportunity given to score runs and the pitching and defense did the rest as they shut down the Vikings 5-0 and claim their first CIF championship since 2004 when they beat Imperial 2-0 under the guidance of ROMA DAWSON.

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Holding their CIF championship patches are #99 Anna Sherburne and #12 Lauren Sherburne

Unlike the last time these two teams met in the semifinals out at the Santee Sportsplex with the Vikings putting a four spot in the top of the first, the Patriots shut down La Jolla which festered the momentum for the Patriots.

Christian in the bottom of the first was able to set the tone offensively as ASHLEY CARTER (2-3, 3 RBI, 2B) smashed a double, AMARA HARRIS sacrificed her to third. The next batter ANNA SHERBURNE (1-3) would ground out to end the inning. Despite not scoring the Patriots showed it was business.

The Vikings only managed a two out single in the top of the second inning which would be the theme of the day as they were held to only 7 singles by Carter.

Moving to the bottom of the third with one down, COURTNEY SKJERVE (2-3, RBI, R, SB) laid down a great bunt for a single, Skjerve stole second base, SILENT RAIN ESPINOZA (1-4, 2 R, 3B) followed by reaching on an error by the shortstop. The Patriots with a couple of runners on, up stepped Carter who ripped a single to center that scored both Skjerve and Espinoza to give the Patriots a 2-0 lead.

Christian would add another run in the bottom of the fourth when TENAY BANEGAS (1-2, R, 3B) led off with a big triple and a couple of batters later MALLORY STEELE (1-2, RBI, R) would lay down a sacrifice bunt and be thrown out at first but Banegas would run down the line and slide into home and beat the throw to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead.

The Vikings in the top of the fifth managed to get a runner on via an error but that didn’t matter as Carter was able to make it moot point as she retired the next three batters in a row.

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Christian’s Silent Rain Espinoza runs home for a 4-0 Christian lead on Saturday.

In the bottom half of the fifth the Patriots plated another run as Espinoza led off with a smashed ball hit and she would wheel her way around till she ended up on third for the triple. The next batter Carter would end up grounding to third who threw her out but Espinoza ran home and was safe to extend the lead to 4-0.

The biggest threat of the day from La Jolla occurred in the top of the sixth as they managed three hits in the inning. The most interesting of those came when the ball was hit to second base but it hit the runner as they were running to second. It was ruled an out but the batter was awarded a hit.

Christian would tack on another run in the bottom of the sixth as Steele singled with 2 outs and would end up at third and scored when Skjerve drove her in to push the score to 5-0.

“I felt really confident after the big double and really felt the game was ours for the taking,” said Carter. Indeed the game was for the Patriots taking as it showed the entire day.

Leading by a nice margin the Patriots headed to the top of the seventh only needing the three outs to secure the championship.

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Christian’s Ashley Carter at the plate on Saturday during the CIF Division IV championship at UCSD.

Carter took to the circle and did her business. She struck out the first batter, the next batter singled. With a runner on and one out the next batter flew out to ELLE LINDBLAD for the second out and the next batter repeated that effort with Lindblad squeezing the glove for the final out which brought on the celebration by the entire team and coaching staff.

In the victory, Carter tossed 7 innings, giving up 7 hits, walked 0 and struck out 2 to pick up her twelfth victory on the season which was the biggest.

“To win a CIF championship feels so amazing. I was so pumped the night before all night long. As a team we felt confident as we had worked on our fielding on Friday and that everything would work out for us today,” said Carter.

For the Patriots it was their seventh trip to the ship aka the CIF Finals which included trips in 2003, 2005, 2007 when head coach GEORGE GENTRY was an assistant and 2009, 2010 and 2012 as a head coach. Each time the Patriots were denied the ring but not this time.

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Christian’s Tenay Banegas slides home for a run on Saturday at UCSD.

“All those times being in the finals and not winning was very frustrating because we were so close,” Gentry said. “So this one feels special because it is my first time winning as a coach. What these girls accomplished this season is nothing but amazing and I am so proud of them and we have a great future in the program as we only graduate two seniors.

“Overall the pitching was great today as there was no real hard hit balls, the base running and our being able to lay down the bunts was key. The play by SHANNON MCMAHON at third was huge. It was an all-around team effort,” said coach Gentry.

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