Los Alamitos' Alexa Schultz (11) is greeted by teammates at the plate after hitting a home run against La Habra during a quarterfinal game in the Carew Classic in Anaheim on Friday, April 7, 2017. Los Alamitos defeated La Habra, 5-0. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Motivated Los Al shuts out La Habra, advances to Carew Classic semifinals


ANAHEIM – The motivation to win was two-fold for Los Alamitos' softball team Friday afternoon.

Not only would a victory put the Griffins into Saturday’s semifinals of the Michelle Carew Classic, but as Coach Rob Weil joked postgame, it also ensured the team's entire roster would be on time for a school dance scheduled hours after the matinee matchup with La Habra.

Whatever the driving force was, it worked.

Senior ace Ryan Denhart mowed through the Highlanders order, tossing a one-hit shutout in which she retired the final 15 batters she faced as top-ranked Los Alamitos blanked No. 3 La Habra, 5-0, in a Carew Classic quarterfinal at Peralta Park.

Los Alamitos (15-2) will play national No. 1 Norco (17-0) at 1 p.m. today, with the winner advancing to the championship game scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The other semifinal has No. 4 Orange Lutheran taking on Amador Valley of Pleasanton.

“Kids came out and played well, they didn’t want to play tonight,” Weil quipped. “They came out of the house on fire, executed well and Ryan threw a great game. We played clean, that’s the big thing.”

While Los Al turned in a clean sheet fielding behind Denhart, offensively it preyed on a pair of La Habra (10-5) miscues early.

The Griffins scored two runs on a pair of Highlanders errors in the first inning. Factor in Alexa Schultz’s RBI single to right and Los Al was ahead 3-0 after the opening frame.

“It was very uncharacteristic of our kids to make three errors at all, period,” La Habra coach Steve Harrington said. “But it puts things into perspective. These are still kids and it’s valuable because you can’t simulate that kind of an experience. The intensity and tempo was a real good learning experience for us.”

Schultz added a solo home run to left-center field in the third, and Mary Iakopo’s RBI single down the left field line in the fourth made it 5-0, which was plenty of run support for Denhart.

The Maryland-bound senior struck out eight. After Anissa Alatorre’s single to center to lead off the top of the second, Denhart did not allow another Highlander to reach base.

Los Al junior shortstop Kaitlin Parsons went 4 for 4, legging out three infield singles. Schultz and Allison Englant finished with two hits apiece.

Also in the Carew Classic:

No. 4 Orange Lutheran 5, Canyon Del Oro (Arizona) 4: The Lancers rallied from a four-run deficit by scoring three times in the fourth and went ahead for good in the fifth on Maddy Dwyer’s two-run single. Orange Lutheran will take on Amador Valley (11-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Peralta Park.

Ciara Briggs went 4 for 4 with a double and three singles, including a two-run single in the fourth. Sarah Taylor was 2 for 3 and belted a solo home run to right-center for the Lancers (15-2).

Amador Valley 2, No. 10 Canyon 1: The Comanches loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but were only able to bring across one run, on Taryn Young’s sacrifice fly to center field. Dons pitcher Danielle Williams struck out 10 batters.

Norco 6, Huntington Beach 2: Jadelyn Allchin, Ivy Davis and Allee Bunker each had multiple base hits for the Oilers in their loss to the highly ranked Cougars.

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