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Softball

Hailee Rios and Aliyah Huerta-Leipner Combine for One-Hitter in Quarterfinal Victory

San Marcos’ Hailee Rios throws a pitch in the Royals’ playoff victory over Beckman. Click to view larger
San Marcos’ Hailee Rios throws a pitch in the Royals’ playoff victory over Beckman. (JC Corliss/ Noozhawk Photo)

Hailee Rios struck out seven of the first nine batters she faced and Aliyah Huerta-Leipner pitched two perfect innings to seal a 2-0 victory against Beckman (Irvine) in the CIF-SS Division-4 softball quarterfinals.

San Marcos' Savannah Tait hit a one-out double in the bottom of the first inning and Rios launched a ball over the outfield wall in the next at bat off of Beckman starter Christy Kelly.

Kelly settled down after the first inning and threw a complete game with two earned runs, seven strikeouts, and three hits.

Rios rounds first after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning that proved to be the only score of the game. Click to view larger
Rios rounds first after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning that proved to be the only score of the game. (JC Corliss/ Noozhawk Photo)

Fortunately for the Royals, Rios and Huerta-Leipner were better.

"There was a little bit of jitters because of how many people were in the stands for the girls," said Rios. "Right after the first, second, innings they settled in pretty well."

After three perfect innings, Rios walked Megan Mikami to lead off the fourth inning. After a sacrifice bunt advanced Mikami to second, Rios struck out Madison Simon on a ball in the dirt, but the Royals couldn't record the out at first, putting runners on second and third with one out. 

In the next at-bat, San Marcos catcher Morgan Jensen made a twisting catch on a foul ball behind home plate, and Rios got the next batter to line out to escape the jam.

Emma Herrera notched the first and only hit of the game off of Rios with one out in the fifth inning, and Emily Wannamacher walked in the next at-bat. Rios then struck out Annie Jongkobkeait and induced a soft line out to end the inning. 

Aliyah Huerta-Leipner tosses a pitch in the final inning en route to a two-inning save. Click to view larger
Aliyah Huerta-Leipner tosses a pitch in the final inning en route to a two-inning save. (JC Corliss/ Noozhawk Photo)

Rios' final line was five innings pitched, zero runs, one hit, nine strikeouts, and two walks. 

Huerta-Leipner entered the game in relief in the top of the sixth and calmly pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts to pick up the save. 

San Marcos advances to the semifinals of the CIF championship for likely the first time in school history, according to San Marcos head coach Jeff Swann.

"He was proud of us," Rios said of Swann's postgame message.

"We knew coming in that this wasn't going to be a walk in the park team," said Swann. "We did a great job of backing up our pitchers defensively, and our pitching was great."

The Royals will travel to Beaumont on Tuesday to face the Cougars, who defeated Montclair 11-4 on Thursday.

— Noozhawk sports reporter Christian Eckert can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports and @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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