Victory secured second place in the Channel League for San Marcos; both teams headed to playoffs
Senior left-hander AJ Huerta-Leipner threw a three-hit gem on Monday, and Savannah Tait went 4-5 with a triple and two RBIs, leading San Marcos to a dominating 12-2 softball win at Dos Pueblos.
The victory secured second place in the Channel League for the Royals (17-8, 8-3).
The Chargers committed five errors and fell to 14-10 and 6-5.
The Royals and Chargers will both go to the CIF playoffs, along with unbeaten league champion Buena.
San Marcos broke open a 2-0 game with six runs in the fifth.
Kyla Robbins and Megan Cunnison drew walks to open the inning, and Tait and Huerta-Leipner followed with singles to make it 4-0.
Hailey Fryklund reached on an infield error and her sister Allie singled up the middle to score two more.
The Royals stretched it to 8-0 by scoring six in the fifth on three hits, two walks and three errors.
Huerta-Leipner went 2-for-5, with two RBIs, and Allie Fryklund was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Leadoff hitter Allison Gasper had all three hits for the Chargers, including a two-run homer in the fifth.
Huerta-Leipner struck out seven and walked three. After the homer to left, she retired the last nine batters in order.
“My screwball was on today,” said Huerta-Leipner. “Normally my riseball is my go-to pitch, but I was getting squeezed a little bit, which is fine. You kind of work around it. Mo (Morgan Jensen) did a great job behind the plate, blocking some change-ups, and the defense was so solid behind me, which is awesome.”
The Royals are 3-0 against the Chargers this year, and Huerta-Leipner has all three wins.
“She pitched her usual excellent game,” said Royals coach Jeff Swann. “She’s super confident and she has a couple of pitches that usually work for her. I let her call off my pitches at any point in time, which she did a few times today.
“AJ isn’t overpowering. She’s going to make them put the ball in play and we had great defense behind her. We make the basic plays and once in a while, we make some great plays.”
Cunnison, a junior first baseman, made one of those superior plays to end the bottom of the sixth, snaring a screaming liner off the bat of Alison Borden.
San Marcos opened the scoring with two runs in the fourth inning. Tait beat out an infield single and reached second when DP dropped the ball on a forceout at second.
Tait continued on to third and then alertly sprinted for home when the Chargers weren’t paying attention and scored the first run.
Hailey Fryklund doubled to right-center, scoring Huerta-Leipner for a 2-0 lead.
“Offensively, we have an incredibly talented group of hitters,” Swann said. “The first time through the order could be a little dicey, but once they see a pitcher for the second or third time, that’s when we come on.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever scored 12 vs. DP. That’s just a testament to our hitters.”
The Royals had 10 hits and didn’t commit an error. Tait singled in the fourth and fifth innings and tripled to right field in the sixth. She delivered a two-run single in the Royals’ four-run seventh inning.
Dos Pueblos loaded the bases in the first on a single by Gasper, a walk and a hit batter but couldn’t score. The Chargers had runners at first and third in the second and also came away empty-handed.
“We didn’t show up today,” said DP coach Jon Uyesaka. “We’ve made some errors this year, we’re just not handling the ball well. Their pitcher kept us off-balance, and hitting is one of our weaknesses. We’re not making the adjustments and we’re taking too many good pitches.
“Huerta-Leipner has a good mixup with her changeup, her riseball and that extra fastball … she has four or five speeds.”
Dos Pueblos will travel to San Marcos for the last game of the regular season on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Dave Loveton is a local freelance writer.