TEMECULA – A chance at playing in a championship game. A chance to knock off a top-ranked team.
Those were solid motivations for Miali Guachino and the Great Oak softball team to produce their best performance Saturday.
But those weren’t the only reasons.
“She wanted to get to prom, so she wanted to make sure it didn’t go extra innings,” explained Great Oak coach Fernando Ornelas.
What all of it produced was a performance for the ages.
Guachino overwhelmed top-seeded Moorpark by throwing a no-hitter, allowing only one ball to be put in play, and striking out 20 as the Wolfpack rolled to a 7-0 victory in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinals.
Great Oak (19-8-1) will try to claim the school’s first CIF softball title Friday or Saturday, May 20 at Bill Barber Park in Irvine. Great Oak will face Tesoro or Grand Terrace in the final.
The numbers Saturday for Guachino were crazier than usual. The 20 strikeouts were a season-high. They included six three-pitch strikeouts and were fueled by 42 swings and misses on 98 pitches.
Driana Martinez was the only Moorpark batter to put the ball in play, lofting a fly to short right in the fourth after Guachino had struck out the first 11 batters. The fly ball drew a surprised gasp from some in the crowd.
Guachino lost her perfect game when she hit Nathalie Hernandez with two outs in the fifth. She walked the next batter, then got back to business, striking out the final seven.
This came against a Moorpark team that had struck out just 83 times this season, never more than nine times in a game.
“The main thing was our kids couldn’t lay off the rise ball,” Moorpark coach Bill Finnerty said. “I don’t think our kids have seen one like that. She was like a machine out there.”
A noon start to accommodate Great Oak’s prom in San Diego clearly didn’t throw off Guachino, a veteran of all-day travel ball tournaments.
“Just from the first inning, I could tell that I was feeling really good,” Guachino said. “I was feeling really hyped.”
Guachino said she was not familiar with anyone in the Moorpark lineup from travel ball, but had gotten some ideas from video.
“I had seen they were a little late against other pitchers,” she said. “I thought if I had my spin working, they weren’t going to be able to hit me.”
Jillian Leach gave the Wolfpack the lead with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth.
Given Guachino’s dominance in the circle, Jocelyn James effectively put the game away when she lifted a three-run home run over the wall in center field in the fifth.
It was a rough end to the playoff run for the Musketeers (21-2), whose only previous loss this season was to Camarillo.
Finnerty indicated the team hadn’t decided whether to participate in the regional tournament for which it has qualified.
“If we decide to do that, I don’t think we’ll have trouble getting them back on track,” he said.
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