The Santa Monica High softball team has won 120 conference games in a row, but that fact is temporarily trivial as the program works toward a different goal: defending its section title.
The Vikings extended their postseason with a 5-1 win over Anaheim-Loara on the road Tuesday in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
The victory vaulted Samohi into Thursday’s quarterfinals against Torrance on the road at 3:15 p.m. at Wilson Park.
It’s been a wild ride for the Vikings (19-12), who struggled mightily in preseason play against numerous upper-division opponents and quickly fell out of the rankings before storming through the relatively weak Ocean League.
“Our strength is that we’ve played some tough teams,” coach Debbie Skaggs said. “I tell the kids that it’s not where you are at the beginning of the season, but where you are at the end.”
Santa Monica will likely have to be at its best to get past Torrance (24-9), which has had a phenomenal year in Division 4 after playing in Division 3 last season.
Skaggs expects her players to face one of the best pitching staffs they’ve seen all year against the Tartars, who feature Marissa Moreno and Alyssa Loza in the circle.
“As you move along, the pitching becomes a little bit more significant,” she said. “You can’t make any mistakes.”
Both programs enter the game with ample postseason experience, and they’ve crossed paths before. The Vikings edged the Tartars 1-0 in the 2010 semifinals en route to winning a section championship.
Samohi started this year’s playoffs with a 10-1 pummeling of El Monte-Arroyo in the opening round May 21. It led 6-0 after four innings and quashed any comeback chances with three more runs in the sixth frame.
The Vikings carried their momentum into the second round against Loara, which knocked them out of the playoffs in 2011. They exacted revenge four years later, and in the process they held an opponent to one run or less for the sixth game in a row.
Samohi got its offense going in the fourth inning, engineering a four-run rally to take a lead it never relinquished. Senior catcher Annie Quine’s hit up the middle brought in the go-ahead run, and sophomore Jasmine Gomez also reached base. Then junior shortstop Ashley Rakuljic’s bloop hit scored Quine, sophomore Kenedee Jamerson’s double allowed Gomez to cross home plate and center fielder Carly Condon’s base hit added another run.
“It was a good, explosive inning,” Skaggs said. “We were off balance early on, but the girls made some good adjustments. It gave us a little bit of a cushion.”
Star pitcher Whitney Jones gave up just three hits to lead the Vikings, and Skaggs said “she still hasn’t pitched her best game.”
Thursday’s winner will face either San Bernardino-Aquinas or Goleta-Dos Pueblos in the semifinals June 2.
Baseball: Vikings reach quarterfinals
The Santa Monica High baseball team is one of last eight programs standing in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs after a ninth-inning rally against Irvine-Northwood.
The squad broke a late tie to secure a 3-1 triumph in the second round May 26, earning the opportunity to host San Dimas in the quarterfinals Friday at 3:15 p.m.
The Vikings (20-8), who cruised past Santa Maria-Righetti 9-1 in the first round May 21 to set up their game against Northwood, will likely have their hands full against unbeaten San Dimas.
The Saints (30-0) blanked La Quinta in the opening round and thrashed Garden Grove 17-0 to reach the quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.
Photo credit: Wendy Perl / Perl Photography
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