DIAMOND NOTES: Playoff games on Tuesday at home ... Martin keys Lady Broncos’ win … Slider, Mora, Katelyn Shephard headline Beaumont’s win … Valencia nails down career win No. 200, then No. 201 … Garewal plays part in UCR’s trip to NISC tourney … Bulldogs lose to Chapman again in Spokane.

Banning High School bought themselves an extra round in the playoffs with a 6-5 win against visiting Riverside Woodcrest Christian last week.

Sarah Martin’s sixth inning home run gave the Lady Broncos an extra run to play with against the Lady Royals. In the pitcher’s circle, she held off a high-scoring Lady Royals’ team.

“Sarah had to fight off the umpire’s tough (strike) zone,” said Banning coach Rosann Judes. “She had to change her strategy a little bit.”

* * *

Beaumont High, trailing 1-0 in the seventh inning, was down to their last strike when Aubrey Slider struck for a game-tying double. One inning later, Priscilla Mora sent visiting San Bernardino Cajon home with a game-winning double.

Mora is a freshman, said Lady Cougars’ coach Frank Fuimaono.

“She came up clutch. We just brought her up for the playoffs from the JV.”

Both softball teams are still alive for the next round on Tuesday.


Division 3

First round

Beaumont 2,

San Bernardino Cajon 1, 8 innings

Senior pitcher Katelyn Shephard never rattled against a scrappy Cowgirls’ team, fourth place in a toughened Citrus Belt League to highly-ranked schools like Yucaipa and Redlands East Valley.

Surrendering just five hits, strikeout seven and not issuing a single walk, Shephard pitched out of almost every jam except one.

“She kept us in the whole game,” said Fuimaono.

It took Taylor Brooks’ seventh inning squeeze bunt that give Cajon a 1-0 lead.

That 1-0 lead, however, nearly stood up.

With one out in the seventh, Megan Watkins forced Mora, who had singled, bringing up Slider with two outs. Facing Cajon’s second pitcher, Erin Rankin, Slider (8 HR, .439) drilled a shot off the left field fence.

It scored Watkins for a 1-1 tie.

One inning later, Mahkenzy Lewis forced Alyssa Mays, who had opened with a single. Bree Gardinier’s grounder to shortstop was misplayed, bringing up Mora, who already had doubled and singled.

“She is a very confident, yet humbled young lady,” said Fuimaono. “She works hard like our whole team. That’s what we saw in her.”

The freshman infielder made it a 3-for-3 game when she drilled a shot off the left-center field fence, scoring Lewis for the game-winner off Cajon’s third pitcher, freshman Karina Carabajal.

“We started slow,” said Fuimaono, “but our bats came alive in the end.”

Defense, and not Beaumont’s vaunted heavy hitting (41 home runs), is what kept the Lady Cougars in this game.

With a runner on base, Lewis’ catch at the center field fence in the fifth inning probably saved a run.

Watkins, at shortstop, started a rally-killing double play in the first.

In the seventh inning with a Cajon runner on third, two outs and Alyssa Guiton at bat, her wind-blown pop fly that wound up near the pitching circle needed a diving grab by Watkins to save a run.

“The defense really had (Shephard’s) back,” said Fuimaono

Fuimaono noted the clutch at-bats, good pitching and “great defense.”

Earlier this week, the Lady Cougars (19-6) took on Chino Don Lugo (18-6) after beating Diamond Ranch, 12-2.

Next game -- Tuesday, Don Lugo at Beaumont, 3:15 p.m.

Division 6

First round

Banning 6,

Riverside Woodcrest Christian 5

The Lady Broncos’ win brought them a real challenge for the next round. Second-seeded Victorville University Prep (23-2) is a powerhouse team that beat Lake Arrowhead Rim of the World, 12-1, in the opening round.

Erasing the anxiety of playing a first round game, said Judes, might be a factor in stepping onto the field against the Lady Jaguars next Tuesday.

“Their anxiety was stronger than their confidence,” said Judes, referring to her own team. “We’ve got to flip that around. We have a great team. I need to find a way to make them feel more confident.”

Martin, struggling to get calls from the home plate umpire, went to her rise ball in hopes of at least getting a higher strike zone. That may have worked, said Judes.

“If you’re not getting the calls,” Judes told her, “force them to swing.”

Banning got key hits from Haili Newton, Annreesia Waymon, Saudya Reagor and Chelsea Torres, helping key Banning’s win. Martin went 3-for-3.

The win may have been historical. It could be, said Judes, “the first time … Banning’s softball team has ever won a CIF playoff game.”

On-line records only date back to around 2004. “Anything before that,” she said, “we don’t know about.”

Ever since University Prep opened in 2009, the River Cross League champion Lady Jaguars have never had a losing season.

Armed with a handful of .400-plus hitters, senior Ana Leal (15-1, 1.26 ERA) and freshman Alina Lopez (8-0, 1.86) are the Lady Jags’ 1-2 pitching combination.

Said Judes: “We’re excited to see how far we can take this.”

Next game -- Tuesday, University Prep at Banning, 3:15 p.m.


Estevan Valencia, a Banning resident, makes that drive to Redlands every day. Part of that trip involves coaching Redlands High School varsity baseball team. On Wednesday, May 16, Valencia watched a two-run homer and a strong pitching performance lift his team into the first round.

The Terriers beat visiting San Juan Capistrano San Juan Hills High, 2-1, in a Division 3 wild-card playoff. That win earned Redlands a first round duel with Irvine Crean Lutheran.

It’s coincidental that Valencia, a longtime proponent of the small-ball, but-runners-over mentality, benefitted from the long ball. Zuko Tillman’s two-run shot in the third inning, with fellow senior Justin Schubert on base, was all Redlands needed.

They needed Marcus Zofrea’s five innings on the mound, combined with two more from Tillman, to make it work.

Battling strong teams in the high-end Citrus Belt League, topped by Yucaipa with Redlands East Valley in second place, Valencia has been coaching at Redlands since 2006.

The win was Redlands’ 20th this season.

For Valencia, it was career victory No. 200 since arriving at Redlands.

Two days later, it was No. 201 when the Terriers beat Crean Lutheran, 2-0, on Justin Schubert’s four-hitter.

It set up this week’s Division 3 second round duel against Huntington Beach Ocean View.

Next week – The all-Citrus Belt League first-team has a local player in the 18-man squad.


Banning product Seanna Garewal’s freshman regular season is complete, getting a single and walk in the Lady Highlanders’ final game, a 2-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton. Garewal finished the regular season with a .299 batting average.

Then it was on to the playoffs.

* * *

Taylor Misfeldt and Hailey Dolcini pitched shutouts in UCR’s opening two games of the National Invitational Softball Tournament in Las Vegas.

In the Lady Highlanders’ 10-0 win over Nevada-Reno, Garewal singled and scored, then went 0-for-3 in a 2-0 win over Nevada-Las Vegas.

The Lady Highlanders won a spot at this week’s NISC Tournament with a 7-1 win over Nevada-Las Vegas. Garewal singled and scored in the win.


After an emotional showdown between Chapman University-Orange and the University of Redlands at the SCIAC Tournament on May 6, a rematch in Spokane, Wash. took place on May 18.

In that May 6 encounter, Chapman overcame a 10-1 deficit to beat Redlands, 20-12.

Each team, however, reached the NCAA Division 3 Western Regionals.

Both lost close duels in their respective Spokane openers, which led to a Panthers-Bulldogs rematch in the elimination game last Friday.

Chapman opened up a 2-0 lead, but Redlands bounced back to grab a 4-2 lead. Redlands’ Kyle Kabeary homered, later drawing a bases-loaded walk. Redlands Citrus Valley High School product Jordan Babbitt added a run-scoring hit.

When the Panthers pulled into a 4-4 tie, catcher Rainier Aguilar’s grounder to third gave the Bulldogs a 5-4 lead.

A Chapman two-run HR in the fifth inning, however, eventually stood up in a 6-5 triumph.

Bulldog pitcher Adam Stead, who held a 9-0 record heading into the game, took the loss. Reliever Chris Fousek held Chapman scoreless over a 3 2/3 stint, hoping to give his team a chance.

Redlands, which had lost to Texas-Dallas, 3-1, returned home without a playoff win.


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