By Jeremy Balan
Behind 11 strikeouts and four hits from senior starting pitcher Lana Buchbinder, Washington High School advanced to the AAA championship game with a 8-1 win over International Studies Academy on Tuesday at Jackson Park.
“Today was a good day and it was easy for me to pitch out there with a lot of help from my defense,” Buchbinder said.
ISA (11-4) hitters appeared to be overmatched against Buchbinder, who allowed only four hits and three walks.
“She’s a softball player through-and-through,” said Washington Head Coach Carrie Wert. “She’s grown into a lovely, athletically mature young lady. I can’t say enough about her. She’s a great softball player. ”
To go along with her prowess on the pitching rubber, Buchbinder was also the Eagles’ biggest threat at the plate with a 4-for-4 performance, including an RBI triple in the sixth inning.
“Her hitting is strong,” Wert said. “She’s one of the best, if not the best hitter in the league.”
Buchbinder will be heading to Division II Pace University in New York in the fall, but was recruited as a middle infielder.
“What makes her great is that she’s a team player,” Wert said. “She’s a shortstop and she had to pitch because she was my go-to person this year.”
The loss was a tough pill to swallow for the Cobras, who will be losing six seniors from a team that had its highest win total since 2005.
“It was difficult for us to do it this way,” said ISA Head Coach Rich Boyd. “It would have been nice to have a closer game, but we didn’t play as well as we should have. I feel bad for the seniors, but we’re going to have to rebuild and start all over again.”
ISA senior starting pitcher Nancy Alvarado didn’t pitch as poorly as the score indicates, falling victim to six key ISA errors. Alvarado struck out seven in the game.
“She’s been steady all season long,” Boyd said of Alvarado. “If we gave her a little bit of support it may have been a different game. She pretty much got us here and we rode on her coattails. She’s one of the seniors we’re going to be missing.”
Washington (12-3) advances to the AAA final against undefeated Lowell on Tuesday at San Francisco State. The Cardinals (15-0) easily dispatched Lincoln 10-0 in the other semifinal.
“They were tough [during the season],” Buchbinder said. “We just need to focus on what we know and have confidence. Everyone knows Lowell is good at everything, but we can beat them. They’re a beatable team.”
Washington played Lowell tough on March 18, losing 5-4, but struggled against the Cardinals in the season finale on May 4, losing 14-0.
“I think it’s going to be a good game,” Wert said. “It would be nice to have a good contest and I’d like to see us peak and play our best. We have to come out with our A-game. We have to be pretty much flawless.”
W – Lana Buchbinder single to left, Jaimie Hom scores
W – Kaitlin Blando single to center, Buchbinder scores
W – Blando reaches on error, Buchbinder scores
W – Alice Cen reaches on error, Blando scores
ISA – Nancy Alvarado groundout to second, Nicole Zatatain scores
W – Cen double to right, Blando scores
W – Angie Yee infield single, Cen scores
W – Buchbinder triple to right, Megan Chiem scores
W – Cen steals second and third, scores on throwing error