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Comeback just not enough

Bell-Jeff battles to get back into game, but its second attempt falls short in 7-6 loss to Pomona Catholic in title game.

June 04, 2011|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
(Raul Roa Staff Photographer )

IRVINE — Falling behind by three runs, the Bellarmine-Jefferson High softball team was asked to fight its way back in its CIF Southern Section championship game Friday against Pomona Catholic.

The Guards responded.

However, finding themselves down a second time by a three-run deficit, this time heading into the final inning, the Bell-Jeff coaches asked their players to muster another comeback attempt in the Division VII game.

No. 2 Bell-Jeff put forth a valiant effort, pushing across two runs in the seventh inning and putting the potential tying run on second base. But the No. 1 Pacers were able to weather the challenge, sending the Guards down to a 7-6 defeat at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.

It was the first time Bell-Jeff has advanced to a CIF title contest after not getting past the second round of the postseason prior to this season.

It was also the first time in 36 years that a team in the city was able to make it to a championship. Burbank High won a 3-A crown in 1975, and that serves as the area's lone CIF softball title.

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"It couldn't have been better scripted for us in that seventh inning to win the game," Bell-Jeff Coach John Castaneda said. "It was there for us to win. But it all comes down to execution. We had the opportunity, but we didn't cash in on it."

Castaneda said before the game that he had seen footage of Pomona Catholic starting pitcher Amanda Padilla, and the junior tended to tire late in games. And that's just what happened. Padilla breezed through the first four innings, allowing just one base runner, surrendering no hits and striking out eight in a row.

"The game plan we had, in my opinion, worked pretty close to perfection," Castaneda said. "We knew that we were going to have to outlast their pitcher, and we would have a chance to get to her late in the game. We knew we would have our chance."

The Pacers come into the title game on a 14-game winning streak, with all of those victories coming by way of shutout. During the streak, Pomona Catholic outscored its opponents a whopping, 234-0 — including beating three playoff opponents, 81-0.

The last time the Pacers dropped a game was April 6, when they fell to West Covina, 2-1.

It was that dominance that helped the Pacers (24-5) surge back to take a 7-4 lead after six innings. But Bell-Jeff (22-6) still had some fight left in it.

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