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Offense, Defense Are On for San Marcos in 5-2 CIF Quarterfinal Softball Win

Royals play errorless ball; Kyla Robbins gets offense going in fourth inning

San Marcos softball in CIF quarterfinals Click to view larger
Katana Anderson Morris scores the first run for San Marcos on a double by Kyla Robbins in the fourth inning. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The San Marcos softball team learned from its mistakes and is now one win away from returning to the CIF Finals.

The Royals cleaned up the fielding errors they made in their second-round win and played flawless defense on Thursday in a 5-2 victory over San Dimas in a CIF-SS Division 4 quarterfinal game at home.

“We talked about that,” San Marcos coach Jeff Swann said of playing better defense after Tuesday’s eight-inning 8-7 comeback win over Chaffey. “What did we learn? We made some mistakes, that’s fine. We learned from them and what we can do to avoid it.”

The final play by second baseman Sinai Miranda on Thursday typified the kind of defense the Royals played against a San Dimas team that knocked off top-seeded Downey in the second round.. With two runs in and a runner at second base, Saints' pinch-hitter Mandy Fetters ripped a hard grounder to second. Miranda gloved the ball on a short hop and threw to Allie Fryklund at first base for the final out, and the Royals (20-9) advanced to the semifinals for the second straight year.

They will play at Royal High in Simi Valley on Tuesday. Royal defeated Schurr in the quarterfinals.

Swann said Miranda’s strong defensive effort was typical of how she’s played down the stretch.

“What she showed today is what she’s showed in the second half of the season,” he said. “There were a couple of games where she made four of the last five outs on tough ground balls, so she’s unfazed. She’s got a quick release and she’s got a really good glove.”

The Royals' outfield also turned in a good performance.

Left fielder Maddy Leung hauled in a long drive off the bat of Ashley Newton in the fourth inning and Claire Early made a diving catch of Jordan Hill’s short fly ball to center field in the fifth.

Pitcher Aliyah Huerta-Leipner was ecstatic about her team’s glove work.

“We were so solid on defense, especially in the outfield, seeing them making some awesome, stretched-out plays,” she said. “Our defense in the infield was super solid, making the routine plays and a couple of harder hits in the end." 

Said outfielder Kyla Robbins: “Our defense was definitely on today and our hitting was on, too.”

Huerta-Leipner pitched out of a jam in the fourth inning. After giving up a single and a ground-rule double with two outs, she struck out the next batter to end the threat. She finished with eight strikeouts, allowed five hits and two runs in her second complete-game performance of the week.

The San Marcos bats came alive in the bottom of the fourth. Morgan Jensen led off with a single against San Dimas starter Sami Garcia. Pinch runner Katana Anderson Morris advanced to second on a sacrifice by Claire Early and scored on Robbins’ booming double off the fence in right-center field. Paige Powell followed with a single and Miranda hit a slow roller between the mound and third base to bring home Robbins for a 2-0 lead.

“The key there was we got the bunt down,” Swann pointed out. “Once you do the fundamentals, everything else happens. We learned that today.”

Savannah Tait made it 3-0, crushing a solo homer to center field to start the fifth inning.

“She wanted it the other day; she was over swinging,” Swann said. “Today, I told her, ‘Stay within yourself and things will happen.’”

Huerta-Leipner expected Tait to deliver.

“Not even surprised, she does that all the time,” the pitcher said. 

“I think, especially after last time, our pitch selection was a little iffy and we were kind of jittery,” she said of the Chaffey game. “(Today), we just came out here calm and collected and knew we could do it. We recognized the zone early and we were going after balls we knew we could hit.”

Huerta-Leipner was robbed of a hit on a terrific diving catch by Newton in center fielder, but the Boston University-bound senior standout struck back in the sixth. She hit an opposite-field dunker that a diving Saints' left-fielder couldn't come up with, scoring Robbins and Megan Cunnison for a 5-0 lead.

“There’s not any pitching in our division that we can’t hit," Swann said. "The only team that can beat us is us.

"We play sound defense, we’re going to hit the ball and our pitchers are going to do the job and put the ball in play and we just make the plays and we’re fine.”

Everything was fine in the quarterfinals.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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