Softball season ends in 1st round

Softball season ends in 1st round

All season long, the Sierra Canyon softball team seemingly found a way.

Shutdown pitching performances, clutch at-bats — Sierra Canyon put together a sterling season.

It seemed like it was just a matter of time before the third-seeded Trailblazers would break through against Charter Oak in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.

“I think in the back of their minds, they were like, ‘Oh, we’ve got this,’ but it just didn’t happen this time,” Sierra Canyon coach Regina Jorgensen said.

Ultimately Charter Oak held on for a 3-2 victory to stun Sierra Canyon in the first round.

It was an earlier-than-expected ending for a Sierra Canyon team that impressed during its nonleague schedule and produced the program’s first unbeaten Gold Coast League title.

“We had a young team, but they all stuck together,” Jorgensen said. “I think it’s the way we were structured from the beginning. Even though we were not in person, we were still a team, coordinating meetings on Zoom or FaceTime.

“It was like we were all together, even though we weren’t. The girls were already asking about starting the summer program.”

Sierra Canyon drummed up quite a bit of excitement during a 16-2 campaign.

It posted nonleague victories over Chaminade, Alemany, Village Christian, Burroughs, Granada Hills, St. Genevieve and Louisville.

It recorded a 6-0 victory over league rival Paraclete on April 29 and then an emphatic 13-0 victory over Paraclete on May 18.

“We battled through an ugly year with the pandemic,” Jorgensen said. “I told them they earned every run and every win.

“Here’s the deal. When you lose, it hurts. We lost two games all year – to Oaks Christian and the playoff game. It seems like it should not have happened, but it did. It took a moment for it to hit the girls.”

Arizona-bound senior shortstop Amber Toven earned Gold Coast League MVP honors, hitting .549 with five homers and 25 RBIs while striking out just twice all year.

Toven also established herself as a genuine leader.

“She had phenomenal stats every year she played for us,” Jorgensen said. “But she also had the compassion and patience to talk to her teammates.

“They might not be at the same level, but she talked with them so they could step up their game. She would explain something to them at practice, like how to cover the bag or the difference between travel ball and high school ball. She was there for her teammates.”

Freshman Hailey Shuler, Muhlenberg College-bound senior Justin Bergara, junior Sydney Schneider and freshman Lianna Lara earned first-team All-Gold Coast League honors. Freshman Ava Debs, sophomore Parker Whitfield and senior Grace Prabhu were second-team selections.

Shuler and Bergara were a strong tag-team in the circle.

Shuler posted a 0.32 ERA with 65 strikeouts and just seven walks in 43 2-3 innings while batting .455 with three homers and 20 RBIs. Bergara had a 0.98 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 10 walks in 35 2-3 innings while batting .436 with a team-leading 16 doubles.

Shuler, Ava Debs and sophomore Madelaine Debs give Sierra Canyon a strong stable of arms for next season.

“We have three solid pitchers returning, and that’s a great thing,” Jorgensen said. “And to think that the incoming freshman did not get to experience our summer program. They had no idea how the program is normally. They were getting pieces, but not the whole enchilada.

“They will be very surprised. And they are going to appreciate all that Sierra Canyon has to offer – a conditioning coach, yoga in the pool, hikes, team bonding exercises – we mix it up. Not just the mundane. My assistant coach and I have played in college. We don’t want to do the same thing every day.

“They have no idea what’s coming.”

The excitement is already building.