La Habra tops No. 2 Mission Viejo with stunning comeback in Carew Classic


ANAHEIM – Its fight was undeniable, and in battling down to what was its very last strike of the evening, La Habra’s heart and grit prevailed in a wild comeback victory.

Senior Janelle Rodriguez roped the go-ahead two-run home run on a 1-2 count with two outs in the top of the seventh inning, and Hannah Johnson preserved the Highlanders' only lead of the night to claim a 5-4 victory over Mission Viejo on Thursday night in the second round of the Michelle Carew Classic at Peralta Park.

"It's probably one of the bigger comebacks I’ve ever experienced," Highlanders coach Steve Harrington said after the game. "The big thing that we had talked about was that we'd put pressure on them all game. We stranded a lot of runners on base early, so we felt confident we could at least push the envelope." 

In stranding six runners on the base paths in the first three innings alone, the third-ranked Highlanders trailed No. 2 Mission Viejo by three runs headed into the top half of the sixth inning. With a runner on first base with one out, Anissa Alatorre belted a two-run home run to right-center field, cutting the La Habra deficit to 4-3.

Because there was a one-hour and 45-minute time limit in effect, Johnson needed to work quickly. The Highlanders senior right-hander did just that, retiring the Diablos with one-minute to spare in the sixth, allowing for a new inning to be started.

After Mission Viejo pitcher Kyra Snyder recorded two quick outs in the top half of the seventh, Savannah Tourville reached first base on a walk, setting the stage for Rodriguez’s dramatic blast.

With the one-run lead headed to the bottom of the seventh, Johnson retired Camryn Ybarra, Olivia Viggiano and Terra McGowan in order to earn the victory. Ybarra and McGowan had hit home runs off Johnson earlier in the game, but La Habra’s senior forced three fly ball outs to seal the victory.

"It means a lot and it allows us to feel reputable and believe even deeper in our efforts and how we work," Harrington said of the comeback victory. "We're humbled for opportunity to play against these great teams. These girls just have a unique willingness to welcome a challenge and compete. They don’t mind putting the gloves on and going at it. They're very resilient, and that's a great quality about them. Our kids are trained well and work very hard."

The Highlanders will play Los Alamitos in today’s quarterfinals at 3:15 p.m.

Also in the Carew Classic:

No. 1 Los Alamitos 9, Foothill 0: Mary Iakopo’s two-run home run highlighted a five-run first inning that the Griffins used to topple the Knights in a second-round matchup.

Iakopo added a ground-rule double later in the contest.

Kaitlin Parsons stole three bases and scored two runs for Los Alamitos.

Andrea Gonzalez, Cami Sellers and Caitlin Ladd added RBI singles in the first two innings.

No. 10 Canyon 1, Bullard of Fresno 0: In edging out the Knights, the Comanches set up a quarterfinal showdown with Amador Valley of Pleasonton, who has surrendered just nine runs in 11 games this season. 

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