Emily Delgado lifts Santiago softball team past Sierra Canyon, into Division 3 semifinals

CORONA — Once Santiago pitcher Emily Delgado finds her groove, the senior right-hander throws opposing hitters off tune.

Delgado was perfect over the final four innings in hurling a three-hitter as Santiago defeated Sierra Canyon 8-0 on Thursday in a CIF Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinal game.

“Even though we were up a few runs I had to keep the same mindset and the same composure,” Delgado said. “I had to keep working. There was no let-up. I had to push to the end, and no matter what I wasn’t going to stop.”

Delgado struck out 10 for her 10th win of the season as Santiago (14-13-2 overall) posted just its second shutout of 2023.

“The urge to keep going right now is really big and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now,” she said.

The Sharks travel to El Toro for a semifinal game Saturday at 3:15 p.m. It is the program’s first trip to the semifinals since 2013.

“We’re excited to be back where we belong,” Santiago coach Chris Cisneros.

Santiago grabbed two runs in the first inning on an error, and Ashleigh Mejia sliced a run-scoring triple to the wall as the Sharks led 4-0 after the second inning.

Sierra Canyon (14-5-1) led off the third inning with back-to-back hits and loaded the bases with a two-out walk, but Delgado got a little help from her defense to get out of the jam.

“It feels amazing to know my defense has my back. I couldn’t get through it without them,” said Delgado, who did not allow another free base.

Santiago’s Ashley Duran doubled into the left field corner and scored on Abigail Cruz’s double for a 5-0 lead after three, and the Sharks led off the fourth with back-to-back hits before scoring twice more in the fourth.

Delgado fanned at least one batter in each inning and produced three consecutive strikeouts late in the game, ringing up the final batter of the sixth and the first two in the seventh.

“She took the circle and made her presence known, dominated from the first pitch to the last pitch,” Cisneros said. “She looked hungry and being that this is her senior year I know she wants it and she’s showing it.”

Alyson Stofilla (2 for 2) tripled and scored three times for Santiago, which scored in every inning but the fifth.

Sierra Canyon pitcher Hailey Shuler’s effort was undone by four errors over the first two innings. She allowed only one earned run and finished with two strikeouts.

“The (errors) are seriously a depressing statistic,” Sierra Canyon coach Regina Jorgenson said. “They just never found their step, and we’re better than that but you wouldn’t know it by today’s game.”

Sierra Canyon, which won two playoff games in extra innings to advance to the quarterfinals, totaled eight errors in the season-ending loss.

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