Brigid Antonelli’s two-run home run produced the only runs in Redondo Union’s quarterfinal loss to Highland. Photo by Ray Vidal
When the CIF Southern Section Division 3 softball playoffs began last week, there was a strong expectation that at least one local team would reach the semifinals.
Seven of the 32 teams competing in the first round were from the South Bay including Pioneer League co-champions El Segundo and North Torrance, ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, perennial power Torrance and two-time defending Bay League champion and eighth-ranked Redondo Union.
Few thought Palos Verdes would be in the mix. The Sea Kings were flying under the radar after finishing second in the Bay League and advancing to the first round with a 7-3 win over Kaiser in a wild-card game.
After a 5-1 first-round win at La Habra, the Sea Kings gained notice, stunning top-seeded Burbank 5-2 behind a three-hit, eight strikeout pitching performance by Steffi Best.
The sophomore pitcher improved her season record to 16-3 Saturday when Palos Verdes eliminated visiting California 12-5 in the quarterfinals. Best surrendered five hits while striking out five and helped her own cause by going 3 for 4 at the plate with two doubles and five RBI.
Palos Verdes (24-6) will host No. 4 St. Paul (26-6) Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. in a semifinal showdown. The winner will advance to face either No. 2 Righetti or No. 3 La Serna in the finals to be held either Friday or Saturday at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.
North Torrance (26-8) was the only other South Bay team to reach the Division 3 quarterfinals but lost at No. 3 La Serna 1-0 despite a stellar performance by Saxon ace Syndi overly who pitched a two-hitter while striking out eight.
La Serna scored in the game’s only run in the first inning with two outs. Jamie Wren bunted for a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Dana De La Torre’s double.
Eighth-ranked Redondo Union (23-7) saw its season end with a 7-2 loss to visiting No. 10 Highland in the second round. Highland was coming off a 5-4 12-inning win over Torrance.
With Sea Hawk ace Kat Ung battling a stomach ailment, Haley Reed started for the Sea Hawks who were facing the reigning Gatorade State Player of the Year Rachel Garcia.
Garcia was tossing a no-hitter into the sixth inning when Redondo’s Cailey Purkey singled followed by Brigid Antonelli’s two-run home run.
El Segundo (21-8) was eliminated by host Grand Terrace 4-3 in the second round.