Up against it from the start, the No. 3 Orcutt Academy softball team went down hard against No. 4 Bakersfield South in the CIF Central Section Division 6 championship game Friday.
Without its No. 1 pitcher, freshman right-hander Lylah Garcia, and overmatched against hard-throwing South freshman Scarlett Lopez, Orcutt Academy lost 10-0 to South at Fresno State in the first Orcutt Academy sectional divisional title game appearance in program history.
By winning a battle of Spartans teams, South (14-8) advanced to the Southern California Championships. Orcutt Academy finished 11-12.
Orcutt Academy athletic director Bridgett DePalma-Steed said Friday that Garcia could not make the game because of a family obligation. Orcutt went with another freshman, Larissa Lorencz.
"Larissa hadn't pitched in 30 days because of a concussion," said DePalma-Steed. "She literally got off the concussion protocol (the previous) Friday.
"We tried to get the game switched to Saturday. (Schedule makers) switched everyone but us."
The game was originally set for 4:30 p.m. Friday. At one time, the game appeared to be moved to Saturday morning, but then the CIF Central Section office notified DePalma-Steed earlier in the week that the game would take place at its originally scheduled start.
It was evident from the start that Orcutt would have a hard time hitting Lopez's stuff. The Orcutt batters swung at and missed several high offerings from Lopez, and the freshman struck out 12 in a three-hit complete game.
Orcutt first baseman Khaelii Robertson doubled in the seventh inning. Orcutt's other hits were singles by Velen Velazquez and Lorencz.
Lopez pitched right-handed and batted left Friday and she did plenty of damage both ways in the Division 6 finale. Besides her dominant performance on the mound, Lopez went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI sacrifice fly and drove in four runs.
Her battery mate, South catcher Angelina Diaz, went 3-for-3 with an RBI sacrifice fly herself and drove in four runs as well. Diaz caught left-handed and batted right Friday.
Monica Chavez and Yoselin Bringas knocked in the other South runs.
South had out-scored its playoff opposition by a combined 36-6 going in, and the No. 4 seed looked every bit of that Friday. South finished with 15 hits. South had 67 errors coming in but committed just one harmless miscue Friday.
The South left fielder saved a hit and possibly a run with a diving two-out catch in the fourth inning. South second baseman Jaslyn Chavez snagged a sharply-hit ground ball and threw to first for the first out of the bottom of the seventh.
Orcutt Academy had two errors. Orcutt third baseman Nani DeLaCruz made multiple nice plays on sharply-hit ground balls.
To get to the title game, Orcutt beat No. 14 Lemoore Kings Christian 10-0, No. 6 Tollhouse Sierra 9-3 and No. 7 Mendota 14-4 in the playoffs.
Kenny Cress is a sports reporter for the Santa Maria Times, covering local sports in northern Santa Barbara County. You can send information or story ideas to him by emailing it to KCress@SantaMariaTimes.com.