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Madi McDonnell powers Capistrano Valley softball past Foothill in regional playoffs

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Capistrano Valley’s softball team received an unexpected form of motivation before opening the CIF SoCal Regional playoffs Tuesday.

Win for Siena.

The Cougars learned before playing host to Foothill that standout Siena Stickney was ineligible for the Division II game because of her participation in the Orange County all-star game last week.

Capistrano Valley turned its focus to winning for the senior utility player, and delivered a 5-1 victory behind the pitching and hitting of junior Madi McDonnell.

-Capistrano Valley’s Madi McDonnell fires a pitch against visiting Foothill in the CIF SoCal Regional playoffs Tuesday in Mission Viejo. (Photo courtesy of Syd Chai)The Cougars (26-6) also want to beat El Capitan from the San Diego Section in the semifinals on Friday so they can play with Stickney in the finals on Saturday.

“The goal is to win and get there (Saturday) so she is able to play in that final game,” Capistrano Valley coach Melissa Roth said of the Illinois Chicago-bound Stickney.

The Cougars, along with regional participant Kennedy, faced the eligibility issue Tuesday as they learned that their seniors’ participation in the county all-star game violated CIF State and CIF-SS rules for “outside competition” during the season of sport.

Kennedy forfeited its first-round game at El Capitan on Tuesday after learning that its four all-star seniors were ineligible.

“Unfortunately today we got the notification from CIF that any senior who played in the all-star game was not allowed to play,” Roth said. “So we had to tell Siena Stickney at the beginning of the game that she could not play. (All-star) Kate (Verhoef) opted out (from the regional playoffs).”

The penalty for playing in the all-star game is a two-game suspension, so Stickney would be eligible to play in the finals, Roth said.

“I don’t think it’s right,” Roth said of the rule.

The CIF State office stated Tuesday that Kennedy could face sanctions for its forfeit, and added that the rules are set by the member schools.

McDonnell launched a two-run home run, her seventh of the season, in the third inning to give the CIF-SS Division 3 champion Cougars a 2-0 lead. In the circle, the junior scattered seven hits and struck out three in a complete-game effort.

Capistrano Valley added three unearned runs in the fourth inning off junior Lauren Mendez, who struck out two and walked none.

CIF-SS Division 4 champion Foothill (23-11) responded with a solo home run by Ripon College-bound catcher Hannah Vargas, her fourth, in the sixth.

Capistrano Valley, which captured its first section title on May 20, featured a mostly non-senior lineup with the absence of Stickney and Verhoef.

The team received highlight defensive plays from junior left fielder Amaya Bixler, junior shortstop Quinn Southerland, sophomore third baseman Samantha Kelly and sophomore catcher Micayla Turi.

The Cougars banged out 11 hits. Southerland, Turi, junior second baseman Peyton Hitzler and junior first baseman Kayla Meyer had two hits piece.

“Today was kind of a glimpse of what next year would be like a little bit,” Roth said. “The future of this program is really good.”

Foothill said goodbye to its championship run, which claimed its first section title since 2000.

It was an emotional farewell for a tight-knit group led by seniors Alley Storey (team captain), Vargas and Abigail Fryhoff.

“It started a year ago with my seniors from last year,” Foothill coach Jeff Wright of his team’s strong chemistry. “They really helped set the tone of what it meant to be a teammate.”

Foothill’s defense flashed its future with strong plays by junior center fielder Julia Steinberg and junior shortstop EvaMarie Penaloza. “There’s a lot of good things (from this season),” Wright said, “but I know we’re also going to have to raise the level of competition.”

In Division III:

Fullerton 1, Orange Cove 0: Freshman Malaya Majam-Finch fired a one-hitter and struck out seven and Zoey Bautista went 2 for 3 with the go-ahead RBI to lead the host Indians (24-7) past the Division IV champion from the Central Section.

In the semifinals on Thursday, Fullerton plays host to Mater Dei Catholic, the Division 1 runner-up in San Diego.



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