Softball advances to Elite 8

The Sierra Canyon softball team has made the Elite Eight.

Nina Peyton-Johnson was the hero Tuesday with a dramatic two-run walk-off home run against Diamond Ranch’s UCSB-bound pitcher in the bottom of the eighth.

“That’s how Nina does it all the time,” Sierra Canyon coach Regina Jorgensen said. “She always is good for a home run late in the game. We needed that one, today.”

The Trailblazers, who knocked off third-seeded Santa Margarita in the wild-card round and avenged last year’s setback against Sunny Hills last week, trailed 2-1 before mounting a rally in the fifth.

Sophia Sarni, a promising freshman, led off with a single and came home to score the tying run when Izzy Mertes’ ground ball wasn’t handled properly by the shortstop.

Sierra Canyon had a chance to break the game open but an inning-ending double play kept the score tied 2-2.

Peyton-Johnson’s two-run blast to deep right center ended it.

Sierra Canyon led 1-0 in the first thanks to a Mertes double and a Diamond Ranch error before a clean RBI single from Peyton-Johnson.

Hailey Shuler was outstanding in the circle, the only blemish being a two-run single in the fourth. Shuler nearly wiggled out of the jam after the bases were loaded with no outs. Shuler struck out the next two batters before yielding a seeing-eye grounder up the middle.

The Trailblazers now move into the round of eight Thursday with a game against Santiago of Corona on the road.