Orange Lutheran's Sarah Taylor stretches for a ground ball during her team's game against Norco in the championship round of the Carew Classic. (Photo by Michael Kitada, Contributing Photographer)

Orange Lutheran loses to Norco in Carew Classic title game


ANAHEIM – The hype is real.

If there was any shred of doubt at the start of the week as to the team to beat in CIF-SS Division 1 was, Norco solidified its standing as the clear-cut favorite moving forward.

The nationally top-ranked Cougars rode a five-hit shutout from senior ace Taylor Dockins and used a late three-run bomb from Bianca Gonzalez as cushion in knocking off Orange Lutheran, 4-0, in the Michelle Carew Classic championship game on Saturday night at Peralta Park.

Dockins posted a pair of shutouts against two of Orange County’s elite programs on Saturday in capturing the title.

The Cougars senior opened the afternoon by tossing a three-hit shutout against Los Alamitos, the No. 2 ranked team in the latest CIF-SS Division I poll. Hours after a 1-0 win over the Griffins, the Cal State Fullerton-bound right-hander capped a tremendous week with another gem, limiting the defending Carew Classic champs, Orange Lutheran, to just five hits.

In pounding the outside of the plate, Dockins struck out six batters on the evening. Her third punch out of Lancers leadoff hitter Ciara Briggs put the exclamation point on a 5-0 week for the Cougars (19-0) who last won the Carew Classic back in 2011.

Orange Lutheran’s Maddy Dwyer was just as good as her counterpart at the start of the day. The Lancers senior ace struck out seven batters and tossed a five-hit shutout against Amador Valley of Pleasanton to put Orange Lutheran back in the Carew Classic championship game for a second consecutive season.

Against Norco, Dwyer limited the vaunted Cougars lineup to just five hits. Trailing 1-0 with a pair of runners on in the top of the sixth, Dwyer got down 3-0 in the count to Gonzalez. The Norco junior jumped on the ensuing pitch over the heart of the plate, sending the three-run shot over the left-center field wall, turning what was a tight one-run ballgame into a commanding 4-0 lead late.

The Lancers put early pressure on Norco in the first and third innings, putting multiple base runners on the paths in both innings but never able to account for any runs. With the bases loaded in the first, Lancers third baseman Sarah Taylor lined a shot down the first base line that Gianna Marquecho was able to snag and step on the base for the inning-ending double play.

The Lancers dropped to 16-3 with the loss, and was unable to become the first team since Pacifica in 2012 and 2013 to capture back-to-back Carew titles.

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