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Every Hit Counts as Pacifica Wins

Softball: Freed pitches her ninth no-hitter and the offense takes advantage of mistakes in 3-0 victory.


LAKEWOOD — Glendora St. Lucy's pitcher Kristina Gandara was in a no-win situation. Walk Toria Auelua and load the bases with no outs, or pitch to the hot-hitting catcher, who had already stung the ball twice.

Gandara initially chose to pitch around Auelua in the sixth inning, tossing three consecutive pitches well out of the strike zone, but then she had a change of heart. Gandara nicked the outside corner on her next pitch, and then gave Auelua one she couldn't resist.

Auelua slammed Gandara's next delivery into left field, scoring Diana Barreras and paving the way for Pacifica's 3-0 victory in the Division III softball final Saturday at Mayfair Park in Lakewood.

It was a crucial decision for Gandara because her counterpart, Amanda Freed, was on her way to her ninth no-hitter of the season.

"It feels a little different every time you go out there," said Freed, 20-0 this season. "In a big game like this, you kind of feel a little more pumped up, you have more energy than you normally would."

Freed, who pitched a perfect game in the Mariners' semifinal victory over Palm Desert, was in control throughout, but she had work with a tighter strike zone than usual. Freed, who had walked only 26 batters in 147 innings going into the final, walked four and struck out 11.

"It seemed like sometimes I thought I was getting squeezed," she said. "But I had to adjust. I just pitched wherever [the umpire] wanted it, and if they put it in play then the defense was making all the plays."

Through five innings, Gandara (17-4) had allowed only two base runners, but much of her success was because of her defense. Auelua and Toni Mascarenas had each flied out deep in both their at-bats, and St. Lucy's shortstop Angel Braden had robbed Freed of a base hit by stabbing a grounder in the hole in the second inning.

But Gandara began to unfold when she hit Barreras to lead off the sixth, and then St. Lucy's defense started to fade as well. When Shawna Goessling bunted, third basemen Kyla Hattabaugh tried to force Barreras at second, but the throw was late.

Then came Auelua's single.

"I tried to pitch around her, but I kind of changed my mode in between," Gandara said. "That was a big mistake on my part. I should have just went ahead and walked her."

The next hitter, Dara Webb, also bunted, and this time St. Lucy's couldn't make a throw at all, leaving the bases loaded.

"That's two big mistakes and against a team like this, you can't make them," St. Lucy's Coach Dave Confair said.

Mascarenas then delivered the knockout blow, lining a single to center that scored Goessling and Auelua for a 3-0 lead.

"With the bases loaded I kind of pumped myself up," Mascarenas said. "I wasn't going to leave the field my senior year without getting a base hit."

Said Pacifica Coach Rob Weil: "We never give up, and we showed that in the Canyon game when we were down a run going into the seventh inning with one out and the bottom half of out lineup coming up. This is a team that just keeps going and going and going. It's like a team I've never coached before."

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