Support our high school sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. Subscribe now.
WOODLAND HILLS — El Camino Real softball is peaking at the right time. The Royals won the first game of the season, then lost five in a row for a rocky start. But on Wednesday afternoon, ECR picked up a 2-1 win in the first round of the City Section Open Division playoffs.
“It was an uphill battle,” coach Jodi Borenstein said. “We worked and we made sure that they believed we were still going to make the playoffs.”
El Camino Real’s Amber Rivas had the walk-off hit to win the game at home and secure a trip to the Open Division semifinals. Terryn Macias was 2-for-3 with a home run and a single, and pitcher Sarah Delgado threw a complete game, giving up six hits while recording six strikeouts.
The Royals play No. 1 Granada Hills in the semifinals Tuesday. Granada Hills went unbeaten in West Valley League play and have handed ECR two losses this season.
Final: ECR 2, Kennedy 1
Amber Rivas with the walk-off hit to send ECR to the Open Division semifinals. pic.twitter.com/cilkk99K3V
— Haley Sawyer (@haleymsawyer) May 11, 2023
Rivas, a Morgan State commit, was in her first game back on Wednesday against Kennedy after missing a game because of a sprained knee.
“Going into my last at-bat, I was 0-for-3 so I was like, I just need to get a hit, I need to get on and then I’ll feel good,” Rivas said. “So now I’m feeling great.”
Base hits were far and few in between until Macias hit a solo home run to start the bottom of the fourth inning. Macias, who also plays soccer for ECR, ran down three fly balls in left field to help keep Kennedy off the board.
“My mindset was just to be on my toes and be ready for it,” Macias said. “Don’t think about it getting hit or launched over your head, but to be ready for it. That’s what I always think and I go with the pitcher when she pitches it, so I’m always on my toes.”
The Cougars tied the game in the sixth inning. Kiara Martinez got on base with a single, then Jennifer Rodriguez, a Utica University signee, drove her in with a triple.
Kennedy didn’t have a field to practice on until halfway through the season due to upgrades to the athletic facilities. The Cougars haven’t used it as an excuse.
“The girls get frustrated,” Kennedy coach Christian Carbajal said. “You could tell that they’re tired every day that they come in and work on the field. We’re gonna have to face it, deal with it and just move on because we don’t know what everybody else is going through.”
Delgado dealt a strikeout in the top of the seventh inning, then the Cougars flew out to left field and right field before the Royals took over in the seventh inning. Akane Gonzalez, a first-year varsity player, slid into home on Rivas’ hit.
Gonzalez is one of eight players who were on the JV team last season that have gained valuable experience this season. It’ll be put to the test against Granda Hills on Tuesday.
“The more games we play, we start to come together,” Borenstein said. “It’s a group that’s new to playing together so it took time and now here we are in the semifinals, in the Open Division, the best division in the city.”