By Jeremy Balan
Lowell High School’s mercy-rule blowout of rival Washington in the Academic Athletic Association championship softball game last season may be a distant memory for some, but it was fresh in the Eagles’ minds on Monday.
Washington doled out its own brand of punishment in the teams’ first meeting of the season, collecting 12 hits in a 13-3 rout of the defending AAA champs at West Sunset Playground.
“It’s big because of last year and because of redemption,” said Washington head coach Carrie Wert. “I can remember how I felt. It was horrible for my girls and it was hard to watch. I said to them, ‘Remember last year when you go up to bat. Just remember last year.’”
The Eagles’ bats responded with authority, most notably No. 3 and No. 4 hitters Kaitlin Blando and Megan Chiem. The senior middle infielders combined to go 5-for-8 at the plate with eight RBIs. Four of those hits went for extra bases, two on triples from Chiem and two on doubles from Blando.
“This is one of the best offensive teams I’ve had in a long time. There’s not a weak link in the lineup,” Wert said. “They had a great game, but they should. They’re older and they should be there. My expectations are really high for these guys.”
The Eagles (5-0 in AAA play) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning spurred by back-to-back RBIs from Blando and Chiem, but only carried a 3-1 lead into the fifth inning, where the bats awoke again.
The key to Washington’s success at the plate was superior discipline and quality at-bats. The Eagles forced Lowell starting pitcher Michelle Willis to throw 151 pitches, but 92 were strikes. Washington hitters consistently extended at-bats with foul balls, including 10- and seven-pitch at-bats from Chiem.
“We were confident and prepared [at the plate],” Chiem said. “We spent a lot of spring break in batting practice. We weren’t afraid today.”
Washington starting pitcher Alice Cen, who started in last season’s championship and gave up 11 runs in five innings, threw confidently throughout, allowed four hits and two earned runs, and struck out nine. The senior also had two hits, an RBI and scored two runs out of the leadoff spot.
The Cardinals (5-1 in AAA play) were held hitless through four innings, but one of their only offensive bright spots came in the fifth, when back-to-back RBIs from shortstop Samantha Yee and Wills cut the Washington lead to 6-3.
“Today just wasn’t our day, but we are using this as an opportunity to build, come back and be stronger than we were today,” said Lowell assistant coach Ruby Chu, who was serving as coach in the absence of Sascha Ray, who missed the game due to an illness. “Now [the motivation] is back in our court and we’re going to come back and throw it back in their face.”
W – Kaitlin Blando singles, Alice Cen scores
W – Megan Chiem triples, Blando scores
W – Theodora Pasion singles, Chiem scores
L – Madison Donahue-Wolfe reaches on an error, Michelle Willis scores
W – Blando doubles, Mari Kawano scores
W – Juliet Young singles, Blando and Chiem score
L – Samantha Yee triples, Polly Lasaguis scores
L – Willis singles, Yee scores
W – Chiem triples, Emma Archer-Duste and Kawano score
W – Pasion singles, Chiem scores
W – Cen singles, Shelby Urbina scores
W – Blando doubles, Archer-Duste and Cen score