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Mater Dei softball tops No. 6 Orange Lutheran with wild finish

ORANGE — Clutch hitting from freshman Jaelyn Toledo in the late innings, combined with an unusual infield double by Cat Kawabe in extra innings, gave Mater Dei’s softball team a nine-inning, 3-1 victory over No. 6-ranked Orange Lutheran in a Trinity League game Wednesday at Orange Lutheran High School.

With two outs and the score 1-1 in the ninth, Toledo, the team’s No. 3 hitter, singled. Kawabe came up and hit a soft blooper between the pitcher’s circle and the foul line on the right side of the infield.

The ball hit the ground and appeared to be rolling toward the foul line fast enough to end up in foul territory. Assuming the ball would go foul, Lancers pitcher Brianne Weiss didn’t pick it up.

But the ball stopped in the soft dirt right on the foul line, and by then Toledo had made it all the way to third and Kawabe made it to second for an infield double.

A throwing error on the play allowed both runners to score, giving the Monarchs a 3-1 lead.

“She has nerves of steel,” Mater Dei coach Sean Brashear said of Toledo. “I knew in those late-game moments that she is the right kid. That is why she is hitting third as a freshman at a pretty good school.

“For her to be able to come up and hit a double … We obviously don’t have a chance to win the game without that.”

Orange Lutheran took a 1-0 lead in the fourth with back-to-back triples.

After Emi Todorki tripled to lead off the inning, Mya Diaz followed with a triple to nearly the same spot in right-center field.

Mater Dei pitcher Justice Alcaraz struck the next three batters to avoid a potential big inning for the Lancers.

“After I did that, that is when I locked down and helped my team,” said Alcaraz of the way she escaped the fourth-inning jam.

She went the distance to earn the victory and struck out 10.

The Monarchs, ranked No. 12 in Orange County, went into the top of the seventh trailing 1-0. Toledo led off the seventh with a double. Kawabe came up next and flied out to deep right field, but it allowed Toledo to tag up and easily make it to third.

A throwing error on the play allowed Toledo (2 for 4, two runs scored) to score the tying run.

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