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Canyon softball survives wild finish against El Modena to keep hold on first place – Orange County Register

Canyon’s Jade Diaz is safe at home plate during the team’s ninth-inning rally against El Modena in a key Crestview League game on Thursday, April 18. Diaz was injured during the game. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

ORANGE – The Canyon softball team had a two-run lead in the seventh inning and one out in a key Crestview League game against El Modena on Thursday at El Modena High School.

Then, with the bases empty, the Vanguards staged a two-run rally that tied the score and sent the game into extra innings.

But the Comanches kept their composure and scored four runs in the ninth inning to earn a 6-2 victory.

“First of all, I think we respect (our opponent) every time we step on a field, especially in our league,” Canyon coach Jess Carbajal said. “We never take for granted that we win. So, we knew that and the girls prepared for a tough match.

Jade Diaz drove in the winning run for Canyon in the ninth, but was injured a play later sliding headfirst home to score the Comanches’ fourth run of the inning.

After a 20-minute delay, Diaz was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

It was the fifth straight victory for the first-place Comanches (21-4, 6-1), one game ahead of second-place Esperanza (5-2 in league) in the four-team league. Esperanza defeated Villa Park 12-2 on Thursday.

Canyon, ranked No. 3 in the Orange County Top 25, will face the No. 9 Aztecs on Tuesday with first place on the line.

The teams shared the first two league matches.

“Now I can talk about going to Esperanza and we will be prepared for that one as well,” Carbajal said.

No. 4 El Modena (17-8, 3-4) remains in third place with two days remaining. Only the top two teams in a four-team league automatically receive a playoff berth, and the Vanguards may need an at-large berth to make the CIF-SS playoffs.

Ava Espinoza doubled to lead off the seventh for the Vanguards, then scored on Kaitlyn Galasso’s double to bring El Modena within a run.

Jocelyn Alatorre then hit Galasso on a single a batter later and the game went to extra innings.

After a scoreless eighth, the Comanches opened the game with a four-run ninth.

Carson Cooper led off with a walk and after Bella Alcala entered as a pinch runner, Diaz doubled into the gap in left-center field, scoring Alcala to put the Comanches ahead 3-2.

Irma Urincho then doubled to right center to score Diaz, who was injured on a close play at the plate.

“I think the big thing we did was pass the baton,” Urincho said. “One blow, then another blow and it continued. Faced with Jade’s injury, we all said we were going to come together even more than we were before and continue to pass sticks and fight as a team.

The Comanches added two more runs, including one on an RBI single by Kendall Nevin.

“My hat goes off to (El Modena coach) Bobby (Calderon) for his fightback,” Carbajal said. “But I expected nothing less.”

California Daily Newspapers

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