Esperanza High’s softball team upset yet another No. 1-ranked opponent on Thursday, June 10.
Now, the Aztecs will get a chance to cement their standing as the best team in the CIF Southern Section.
Senior pitcher Emily Gomez recovered from a rocky first inning to fire a five-hitter and senior center fielder Hannah Coor homered for the second consecutive game as Esperanza stunned top-seeded and host Norco 7-2 in the Division 1 semifinals.
No. 4 seeded Esperanza (21-3) will face Roosevelt, a 7-6 winner against Chino Hills, in the championship game next week at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine. The schedule is expected to be released soon by the CIF Southern Section.
Norco (27-2) entered Thursday riding a 26-game winning streak and having outscored its three playoff opponents 36-1, including an eye-popping 15-1 margin against Los Alamitos.
But the Cougars became the third No. 1-ranked team to fall to the Aztecs this spring.
Esperanza also has defeated previously No. 1-ranked Chino Hills 3-2 and Villa Park, formerly the top-ranked squad in Division 2, 1-0 in the Crestview League.
“The girls on the team knew they could compete,” Esperanza coach Ed Tunstall said after Thursday’s triumph. “They were not intimidated, and they all stepped up.”
Norco scored twice against Gomez in the first inning but didn’t plate another run against the steady senior, who struck out six and didn’t walk a batter.
Esperanza scored seven consecutive runs after falling behind 2-0. Beside the two-run homer by the Oklahoma-bound Coor, the Aztecs received three hits from sophomore shortstop Sharyn Duncan and two from freshman right fielder Taylor Shumaker.
Tunstall noted that eight different players either scored or drove in a run for the Aztecs. Sophomore second baseman Audrey Robles had two RBIs while courtesy runner Makenna Milliman scored a run. “Big team win,” Tunstall said.
Sophomore Mya Perez had two of Norco’s five hits.
Esperanza advanced to its second section final. In 2001, the Aztecs fell in the Division 1 championship to Rancho Cucamonga 1-0 in 12 innings.
Roosevelt finished second to Norco in the powerful Big VIII League.
NEWPORT BEACH — The Pacifica Christian girls basketball team made its debut in a CIF Southern Section final, and for the first eight minutes looked uncomfortable on the big stage.
The young Tritons rallied to take a brief third-quarter lead but ultimately fell to Louisville in the Division 5A championship game 57-49 Thursday night at Pacifica Christian High.
The Royals (10-3) won their first girls basketball CIF title in school history behind their bigs, freshman Taylor Westbrook, who scored a game-high 22 points, and Katherine Csiszar, who had 14 points.
“That was our game plan coming in,” Louisville coach Monica Hernandez said. “We knew that they had one big, but if we could dominate in the paint we would have a better chance at winning the game.”
Pacifica Christian (15-4) only made two field goals in the opening quarter, both by freshman guard Lauryn Ham, and fell behind 14-5.
Ham finished with 15 points and freshman Annika Jiwani, who was averaging a team-high 21.5 points a game, was held to 11 points.
Pacifica Christian coach James Parker felt that the pressure of playing in a final was a factor for some of his players.
“This is a lot of pressure and she’s (Jiwani) not used to having such adversity and trouble to be able to get going,” Parker said. “I think what happens with the pressure and this game, as a young person, is trying to figure out how they’re going (to make) things happen for themselves and how they’re going to be able to step aside and let the game come to them.”
Parker also believed defensive breakdowns were the reason for the Royals’ success in the low post.
“It was more of our defense breaking down and being out of position,” Parker said. “That was my biggest concern, not getting the rotations we needed and therefore, you got a big body that has the ball in a good position.”
The Royals had a 27-20 halftime lead but the Tritons deployed their full-court press which helped them to an 8-0 run sparked by Charis Wondercheck and Jiwani.
Louisville responded with a 15-2 run to end the third and took a 42-30 advantage to the final quarter.
“We just told them, especially in this type of setting, that runs would make the difference, so if they make a run stay composed and get stops when it mattered, and we did that,” Hernandez said.
Pacifica Christian began the fourth quarter with four quick points on baskets by Nola Mihaly-Garvin (eight points) and Wondercheck (nine points).
The Tritons got within six points at 42-36, but Westbrook scored eight points in the final period and Alyssa Saldana (11 points) hit a shot with 1:25 left in the game to put Pacifica Christian away for good.
GARDEN GROVE — Police said they made 19 arrests Wednesday evening at an illegal gambling operation in a Garden Grove neighborhood.
Police responded about 7 p.m. to the 10000 block of McMichael Drive, near Brookhurst Street and north of Chapman Avenue, and determined a residence “was in fact operating as an illegal gambling establishment,” according to Sgt. Troy Haller of the Garden Grove Police Department.
A search warrant was served at the home and 12 gambling machine consoles and a gun were found and seized, Haller said.
Officers arrested 19 people for illegal gambling violations and/or outstanding arrest warrants, Haller said.
SANDY, Utah (AP) — The United States finished a grueling stretch of four games in 11 days over 5,400 miles that resulted in three wins, including the CONCACAF Nations League trophy. Twenty-four players saw action, and eight scored.
Prep time for the Europe-based players is over. Next up is the start of World Cup qualifying in September.
“The depth of this team will really come in handy,” Brenden Aaronson said after scoring in the eighth minute Wednesday night to start a 4-0 exhibition rout of Costa Rica. “I think it’s it’s going really well so far. And I think we showed that today.”
Daryl Dike and Reggie Cannon added their first international goals and Gio Reyna converted a penalty kick in the 77th, three minutes after entering.
U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter changed nine starters from the lineup he used to beat Mexico 3-2 in extra time on Sunday to win the first CONCACAF Nations League.
Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent didn’t play at all.
Defender Mark McKenzie, the target of racial abuse on the Internet after a poor first half Sunday, was the only player to start for the fourth straight game and had a stronger effort.
“I came of out of the Mexico game being extremely proud of Mark and the way he handled himself,” Berhalter said. “He didn’t need to play another minute today and I still would have been proud of him.”
This schedule was designed to mimic pandemic-delated World Cup qualifying, where the U.S. opens with three matches from Sept. 2-8, a window FIFA designed for two.
“What I realized is that it’s going to take a group to get this done. It’s not going to take 11 starters,” Berhalter said. “We think we have a young, talented group. And to gain that CONCACAF experience was massive. And when we turn around and we go into World Cup qualifying, we’ll have a good idea of what that’s going to be like and what the three-game rhythm’s going to be like.”
Reyna was the only multiple goal scorer over the four games, which began with a 2-1 friendly loss at Switzerland on May 30 and was followed by last Thursday’s 1-0 win over Honduras in the Nations League semifinal. Pulisic, McKennie, Jordan Siebatcheu and Sebastian Lletget also scored.
“I think there’s guys that will be able to go three games and 90 minutes, but it’s not going to be many, especially given the way we want to play and the way we want to press,” Berhalter said.
Europe-based players will go on brief vacations and then skip next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup to report for preseason ahead of 2021-22 club seasons.
The 20th-ranked U.S. improved 11-1-1 in its last 13 matches and won its 10th consecutive game against a regional opponent since a 2019 Nations League loss to Canada, matching the American high set in 2013. The U.S. beat its top three regional rivals within a week.
Ethan Horvath was rarely tested and got the shutout on his 26th birthday after taking over when Zack Steffen sustained a bone bruise in his left knee during the second half on Sunday.
The 50th-ranked Ticos are winless in 11 games since 2019, with six losses and five draws that included a pair of penalty-kicks defeats.
The U.S. team, wearing rainbow numbers on white jerseys for LGBTQ Pride month, dominated and went ahead after Lletget passed to Antonee Robinson on the left flank, and he crossed for Dike. Francisco Calvo knocked the ball away, but it bounced into the path of Aaronson, whose right-footed shot from 8 yards beat goalkeeper Leonel Moreira for his third goal in seven international appearances.
Dike, six days past his 21st birthday and making his third international appearance, scored in the 42nd minute. McKenzie fed a through pass from just short of the midfield stripe, and Dike ran onto the ball and scored from 14 yards.
A crowd of 19,007 was unusual for Dike, who has played most of his pro career in empty stadiums or in front of limited crowds.
“It was incredible to have fans,” Dike said. “It’s something that you’ve always kind of looked forward to as a young kid to be able to play in front of thousands and thousands of fans.”
Cannon picked up an errant sideways clearance attempt by Yeltsin Tejeda in the 52nd minute, dribbled in, cut around Joseph Mora and scored with a left-footed shot from 14 yards.
Reyna was awarded the penalty when he was knocked over by Keysher Fuller. The 18-year-old, a son of former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, became the youngest American to convert a penalty kick with his fourth international goal.
Siebatcheu entered in the 74th minute and appeared to hurt his right knee in an aerial challenge, forcing the U.S. to finish a man short.
Grace Brethren defensive lineman Jay Toia has flipped his commitment to UCLA, after spending spring camp with USC.
The 6-foot-2, 315-pound incoming freshman becomes the highest-rated recruit for the Bruins’ 2021 class. He first committed to the Trojans in 2018 and signed his national letter of intent in December 2020.
He entered the transfer portal after announcing his decision to leave USC in May. He enrolled early and found himself competing alongside the first- and second-team defense throughout spring practice.
“The 2020 pandemic was tragic to so many that lost so much,” Toia wrote in a Twitter post on May 31. “For me and especially my parents we felt forced to make a major decision signing with USC based on limited information because of COVID-19 restrictions. We were not able to take any official or unofficial visits to any of the other schools on our short list such as Michigan, Utah, UCLA, Miami among others.”
Following his departure from the Trojans, he made visits to Michigan and UCLA.
“You’re talking about off the field the sweetest human being you will ever meet, but I don’t know who he becomes when it’s a competitive situation,” Helton said. “He is a different person and it has been really neat to see how talented he is but also what an unbelievable sense of urgency that guy has to be great and to help this team next year.”
The magical finishes to games are spreading at Esperanza High.
Oklahoma-bound center fielder Hannah Coor belted a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning Tuesday, June 8 to lift the Aztecs’ softball team past visiting Murrieta Mesa 5-2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals.
Coor’s dramatic homer arrived on the heels of two last-second victories by Esperanza’s girls basketball team during its playoff run, which hits the Division 1 final at Long Beach Poly on Thursday.
Coor’s blast sent the No. 4 seeded Aztecs into the semifinals Thursday at No. 1 Norco, which defeated Los Alamitos 15-1.
Esperanza senior pitcher Emily Gomez went 11 innings to earn the victory, scattering five hits and striking out eight.
Freshman Taylor Shumaker and sophomore second baseman Audrey Robles each added three hits for Esperanza.
In other quarterfinals Tuesday:
In Division 5:
Ocean View 3, Capo Valley 1: Desyree Arizmendi fired a complete game with six strikeouts and Emma Craft had three hits to help the Seahawks upset No. 2 seeded and host Cougars.
Ocean View, the third-place team from the solid Golden West League, will play host San Marcos in the semifinals on Thursday.
Western Christian plays host to Heritage Christian in the other semifinal.
In Division 4:
Rosary 5, Citrus Valley 1: Hannah Hernandez and Danica Silvestri each had three hits and Natalie Romero threw seven strong innings as No. 2 seeded and host Royals reached the semifinals. Rosary will play host Thursday to Oxnard, an 8-0 winner against Arlington.
In Division 3:
Beckman 5, Arcadia 0: The visiting Patriots moved onto Thursday’s semifinals against Redondo. The semifinal will be played at Beckman.
In Division 2:
Villa Park 3, Downey 0: Arizona-committed junior Sydney Somerndike fired a one-hitter and struck out 16 and Jordyn Lawhon added two hits as the No. 2 seeded Spartans reached Thursday’s semifinals. Villa Park will play host to Westlake for a trip to the finals.
It’s the second case the court has accepted for the fall involving a government claim of “state secrets,” the idea that the government can block the release of information it claims would harm national security if disclosed.
As is usual, the court didn’t comment Monday beyond saying it will take the case, which is expected to be heard after the court takes its summer recess and begins hearing arguments again in October.
In the other state secrets case the justices have accepted they’ll decide whether a Palestinian man captured after the Sept. 11 attacks and detained at the prison on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can get access to information the government classifies as state secrets.
The case the court accepted Monday involves three Muslim residents of Southern California who say that from 2006 to 2007 the FBI paid a confidential informant to covertly gather information about Muslims in Orange County, based solely on their religion.
A district court dismissed the case after the federal government invoked the state secrets privilege. The court agreed that continuing the case would “greatly risk disclosure of secret information.” But an appeals court reversed the decision.
No matter how good a baseball team might be, it is very hard to win after spotting a talented opponent a seven-run lead in the first inning.
That was UC Irvine’s reality on Monday night against Stanford in the championship game of the four-team Stanford Regional of the NCAA tournament. The Cardinal pounced on the Anteaters for seven runs and eight hits before the Anteaters had a chance to grab a bat and held on for an 11-8 win.
The loss ends UCI’s season at 43-18, with a Big West Conference record for wins in a season, their first regional appearance since 2014 and a determined effort against a solid Stanford team. The Cardinal (36-15) advance to a best-of-three super regional against Texas Tech next weekend in Lubbock, Texas, with the winner moving on to the eight-team College World Series.
Nathan Church hit a first-inning home run for UCI and went 4 for 6 on the night to punctuate a regional performance that saw him go 13 for 26 over five games. Dillon Tatum hit a two-run home run in the third to set the program record for single-season homers (15).
UCI head coach Ben Orloff knew he would use a lot of pitchers in the Anteaters’ fifth game in four days, but he was comfortable starting with Game 1 star Mike Frias, who threw a complete game two-hitter in a victory over Nevada on Friday night.
But Frias gave up four straight hits to start the game and was removed after the fifth batter. Eddie Park hit the first pitch for a single and Tim Tawa slugged a 3-and-1 fastball for a two-run home run.
Brock Jones hit a nubber to the triangle between the mound and third base for a single and Kody Huff doubled to left to put runners on second and third. Christian Robinson hit a deep fly to score Jones.
Orloff pulled Frias, but Stanford kept producing against reliever Gordon Ingebritson. Nick Brueser hit a sacrifice fly to center to make it 4-0. None of the next three batters got the ball out of the infield but loaded the bases regardless.
Drew Bowser reached on a Justin Torres fielding error, Tommy Troy beat out a slow roller to third and a bunt single loaded the bases. Park then singled up the middle to score two more runs, and Tawa singled to right for another and a 7-0 lead.
Church homered in the first and Tatum homered in the bottom of the second, but Stanford added single runs in the second and third to make it 9-3.
UCI scratched back but struggled with runners in scoring position – stranding two on with no outs in the third, stranding Torres after a leadoff triple in the fifth, and eventually leaving 12 runners on base. The Big West champions also committed four errors in the first three innings, and five of Stanford’s runs were unearned.
The Anteaters trailed 11-5 going into the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Stanford relievers walked the bases load and Luke Spillane’s cue ball double to right field scored two to cut the margin to 11-7.
Stanford coach Dave Esquer’s plan was to tag-team the UCI lineup. Four of the first five hitters are left-handed, so the Cardinal started left-hander Drew Dowd.
Thereafter, the Cardinal flopped pitchers according to the Anteaters’ lineup – left-handers at the top of the order and right-handers at the bottom. They went through eight pitchers by game’s end, with closer Zach Grech facing 11 batters in two innings.
Grech got two quick outs in the ninth before Spillane had his third hit of the game. Left-handed pinch hitter Jake Palmer was then semi-intentionally walked by Grech.
Stanford went to left-hander Jacob Palisch to face the UCI lefties. Church lined a single to left to score a run and keep the inning alive, but Palisch retired Mike Peabody on a high fly to center.
The Anteaters scored 46 runs in their five games. Of the 30 runs they allowed, 14 came in two innings of play, and 11 of the runs allowed were unearned.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Simone Biles toned it down. A little anyway. And soared even higher.
The 24-year-old gymnastics superstar claimed her record seventh U.S. title Sunday night, delivering another stunning — and stunningly easy — performance that served little doubt the pressure surrounding her bid to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic championships in more than 50 years is only pushing her to even greater heights.
Shaking off a somewhat sloppy start Friday, at least by her impeccable standards, Biles put on a four-rotation showcase that highlighted why a GOAT emblem — a nod to her status as the Greatest Of All Time — has become a fixture on her competition leotard.
Her two-day total of 119.650 was nearly five points better than runner-up Sunisa Lee and good friend and teammate Jordan Chiles. Biles’ all-around score on Sunday of 60.100 was her highest since 2018 and served notice she is only getting better with the Tokyo Games less than seven weeks away.
It helped that she managed to stay inbounds (mostly) during her floor routine after stepping out three times on Friday. Blame in on the rush she gets when the lights are on and a crowd is in the palm of her hands. She was far more precise in finals save for one tumbling pass where one of her feet stepped over the white border.
Oh, well, something to work on for the Olympic trials later this month in St. Louis.
“It’s so crazy because in training I never go out of bounds and I never have this much power,” Biles said. “But with the adrenaline, that’s where it comes.”
While Biles’ victory was never in doubt — it rarely has been during her nearly eight-year reign atop the sport — she remains in no mood to coast.
And to think she didn’t even bother with her latest innovation, a Yurchenko double-pike vault she drilled twice at the U.S. Classic last month that caught the attention of everyone from LeBron James to Michelle Obama. Instead, she opted for two with slightly lower difficulty that she completed so casually it was hard to tell if she was in front of an arena that screamed for her at every turn or just fooling around at practice back home in Houston.
Not that it mattered. She still posted the top score on vault anyway. Just like she did on beam. Just like she did on floor. Just like she’s done everywhere she’s saluted the judges since the 2013 U.S. Championships.
The Yurchenko double-pike will return at trials and likely in Tokyo, where if she completes it during competition yet another element in the sport’s Code of Points will be named for her. Just add it to the list of what they call “#SimoneThings.”
Biles has been a lock for Tokyo from the moment she returned to training in late 2017. Chiles and Lee may also be nearing that territory. The top two all-around finishers at trials will earn an automatic spot on the Olympic team, though U.S. national team coordinator Tom Forster allowed Biles, Chiles and Lee have separated themselves from the pack.
“You can look at the scores and if the scores are anything, it looks like that,” Forster said.
Yes it does.
Lee, competing on a bad ankle that sometimes left her limping around the arena, appears to be gaining momentum. Behind a bars routine that is one of the most innovative and electric on the planet, Lee fended off a strong challenge from Chiles to hold on to silver.
“I feel like people are kind of doubting me because I’ve been injured for a little bit,” said Lee, who added she doesn’t think she needs to do much more to impress the selection committee.
Chiles continued her remarkable rise over the last six months, finishing runner-up to Biles for the second time in three weeks. The 20-year-old, who started training alongside Biles two years ago, shared an emotional moment with her good friend after drilling her bars dismount. Chiles saw coach Cecile Landi sobbing, which led her to join in, which led Biles to come over and offer a hug and a reminder of how far she’s come.
“(She) was telling me I deserved what I just did and I’m gifted and talented and I have the opportunity to make that team,” Chiles said.
The real intrigue heading into Trials might be who else can emerge from a crowded field. Emma Malabuyo finished fourth, with Leanne Wong fifth. Jade Carey, who has already secured an individual berth to the Olympics thanks to her performance on the World Cup circuit, was sixth. Forster said he expects Carey to accept her automatic spot rather than try to make the five-woman U.S. team.
The group at the trials, however, will not include Laurie Hernandez. A two-time Olympic medalist in 2016, Hernandez did not compete after injuring her left knee on a beam dismount during warm-ups on Friday.
A pair of former world champions are also likely out. Morgan Hurd, the 2017 world champion, could petition into Trials but has been struggling with both her injuries and her form didn’t finish in the top 20 on either beam or floor. Chellsie Memmel, the 2005 world champion who began a comeback last summer, saluted the crowd after ending her uneven bars routine.
The picture behind Biles and Chiles and Lee, however, remains crowded with only three weeks to go before the team is unveiled. That’s not a bad thing.
“I do think the field has gotten better,” Forster said.