By Derryl Trujillo

— LAKE ELSINORE – During their run to the CIF-SS Division 3 semifinals, Temescal Canyon’s softball team was able to rally from deficits and win in back-to-back rounds. Tuesday afternoon, in a CIF-State Division 3 Southern California Regional quarterfinal game delayed by 75 minutes due to a miscommunication with umpires, the Lady Titans flipped the script and used a three run third inning to grab an early lead. Then they survived three late Cajon attempts to tie the game and prevailed 4-1. No. 3 Temescal Canyon will be on the road at No. 2 Temple City Wednesday, June 1, in the afternoon.

Each side got a runner on in the first two and a half innings but could not punch through. Vanessa Flores led off the game with a walk in the Cowgirl’s first inning but was caught stealing on an excellent throw from Lady Titan catcher Haley Gano. In the second inning Kim Rodas singled to lead off but Temescal Canyon starting pitcher Marissa Sanchez got KC Caldera to ground into a double play and Sonia Garcia’s flyout ended the threat. Temescal Canyon had a single from Haley Garcia in the first and Sanchez in the second but couldn’t bring either around to score as Cowgirl starting pitcher Jada Villegas escaped trouble in both instances.

Alexis Ellenwood (6) gets the out at third base to end a Cajon scoring threat late in their CIF State Division 3 championship softball playoff game. Valley News/Andrez Imaging

Titans coach Christina Goldberg remarked, “Villegas is a great pitcher and my message to the hitters was to shorten up, get the ball in play, and see what happens. Marissa is such a fighter, and I can’t tell you how proud I was of her to see how many times she got into trouble and then got out of it. We spend a lot of time with the defense, and she knows they have her back.”

That changed in the bottom of the third as Gano led off the inning with a single, stole second and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. She scored as Mary Cabrera grounded into a fielder’s choice and two batters later Alexis Ellenwood had a two RBI single to make it a 3-0 Titan lead after three innings. They added an insurance run in the sixth as Ellenwood led off the frame with an infield single and came around to score when Gisele Gonzalez reached on an error.

Cajon left six runners on base with their final nine outs. In the fifth they had bases loaded with one out on singles from Kiyana Cash and Jayna Lopez and a walk to Sienna Garcia. Sanchez yielded just one run on an RBI sacrifice fly from Vanessa Flores which made it a 3-1 Temescal Canyon lead at the time and escaped further damage as Mercedes Alba flew out.

Sanchez remarked, “I was a bit off today but both teams came out to fight and it was an incredibly good game. Turning around and playing again tomorrow is not easy but it is a good problem to have.”

In the sixth inning it was Déjà vu as Rodas and KC Caldera reached base with back-to-back singles, but Sanchez got back-to-back groundouts to end the threat. Down to their last three outs Lopez led off the inning with a single but was tagged out trying to stretch it to a double. Garcia followed her with a double, but Sanchez got back-to-back flyouts to finish the win for Temescal Canyon.

Cajon coach Lee Haines said, “Falling behind takes away a lot of our small ball attack which has been so huge for us this year. We swung at a lot of bad pitches early and when we got Sanchez to throw strikes, we put the ball in play but just could not come up with a big hit.”

WP: Sanchez, Marisa – CG, 1 run, 8 hits, 1 K, 2 BB’s 1 HBP.

LP:  Villegas, Jada – 6 IP, 4 runs, 6 hits, 3 K’s, 0 BB’s.

Leading Hitters: Garcia (TC) 2-3, Ellenwood (TC) 1-3 w 2 RBI, Rodas (Cajon) 2-3, Lopez (Cajon) 3-3.

Other CIF State playoff games that took place Tuesday, May 31, for local teams include: Division IV: Elsinore beat Chavez, 7-4; Division V: Linfield was defeated by Garfield High School, 15-8; Fallbrook fell to Nipomo, 9-8. Elsinore will travel to face No. 1 seed Monache Wednesday, June 1.

Derryl Trujillo has been a sportswriter in the area since 2018 and is a 2019 winner of the IEBCA Supporter of the Year award. He can be reached by email at socaltrekkie@gmail.com.