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Los Alamitos softball shuts out Oaks Christian for berth in Division 1 final

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LOS ALAMITOS — Sometimes loss can be a powerful reminder. It’s how the Los Alamitos softball team motivates itself everyday.

“Last year, we lost to Norco 15-1 in the quarterfinals,” Griffins pitcher Sydney Saldana said. “We use that to channel our focus each game.”

In an effort to never feel the sting of playoff defeat again, the team stamped “15-1” in big letters in their locker room as a daily reminder before they take the field.

That quarterfinal loss a year ago cut deeper for Saldana, though.

“I gave up eight runs in the first inning that day,” she recalled.

Saldana did the exact opposite in Los Alamitos’ 4-0 win over visiting Oaks Christian in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinals Saturday afternoon.

Los Alamitos’ Giselle Alvarez #44 follows through on a 3-run home run in the third inning while playing Oaks Christian in the CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoffs on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Los Alamitos’ Giselle Alvarez runs toward home plate after hitting...

Los Alamitos’ Giselle Alvarez runs toward home plate after hitting a three-run home run against Oaks Christian in the CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoffs on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Los Alamitos’ Giselle Alvarez #44 is surrounded by teammates after...

Los Alamitos’ Giselle Alvarez #44 is surrounded by teammates after hitting a three-run home run against Oaks Christian in the CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoffs on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Oaks Christian’s Liesl Osteen catches a fly ball in the...

Oaks Christian’s Liesl Osteen catches a fly ball in the outfield while nearly colliding with teammate Lily Knox #14 in a CIF-SS Division 1 softball game against Los Alamitos on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Los Alamitos’ Ava Morales #4 makes it safely to second...

Los Alamitos’ Ava Morales #4 makes it safely to second base while Oaks Christian’s Liesl Osteen #10 fields the ball during a CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoff game on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Oaks Christian’s Justine Lambert #12 tries to avoid Los Alamitos’...

Oaks Christian’s Justine Lambert #12 tries to avoid Los Alamitos’ Julie Holcomb after getting a force out at second base during a CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoff game on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Oaks Christian’s Micaela Kastor pitches against Los Alamitos in the...

Oaks Christian’s Micaela Kastor pitches against Los Alamitos in the CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoffs on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Los Alamitos’ Sydney Saldana leaps into the air after the...

Los Alamitos’ Sydney Saldana leaps into the air after the final out against Oaks Christian during a CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoff game on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Los Alamitos’ Sydney Saldana #15 pitches while playing Oaks Christian...

Los Alamitos’ Sydney Saldana #15 pitches while playing Oaks Christian during a CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoff game on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Oaks Christian’s Justine Lambert catches a ground ball while playing...

Oaks Christian’s Justine Lambert catches a ground ball while playing Los Alamitos in a CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoff game on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Oaks Christian’s Justine Lambert celebrates after tagging out Los Alamitos’s...

Oaks Christian’s Justine Lambert celebrates after tagging out Los Alamitos’s Jazzy Santos who tried to steal second base during a CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoff game on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Oaks Christian’s Justine Lambert drops the ball as Los Alamitos’...

Oaks Christian’s Justine Lambert drops the ball as Los Alamitos’ Camryn Johnson slides safely into second base in the CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoffs on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

Los Alamitos’ Sydney Saldana #15 celebrates with her teammates after...

Los Alamitos’ Sydney Saldana #15 celebrates with her teammates after the final out in their victory over Oaks Christian in the CIF-SS Division 1 softball playoffs on 5/14/2022 in Los Alamitos CA. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

The Utah State-bound senior threw a complete-game shutout, had four strikeouts and allowed just four hits to anchor the Griffins (24-7) as they advanced to the Division 1 final to play Roosevelt at Bill Barber Park in Irvine on May 20 or 21. Roosevelt won 3-0 over Gahr in the other semifinal.

Los Alamitos 4, Oaks Christian 0. FINAL

Sydney Saldana pitches a complete game shutout for the Griffins. Giselle Alvarez delivered the big swing in the third inning, a 3-run homer.

Los Al returns to the CIF finals for first time since 2017. pic.twitter.com/ZSPYpxwBWR

— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) May 14, 2022

The Griffins’ win broke Oaks Christian’s 31-game winning streak and marks the program’s first CIF final appearance since 2017, when it lifted the Division 1 crown with a 3-1 win over Norco.

“I knew they were tough hitters,” Saldana said of Oaks Christian. “I worked off the plate, kept the ball down, and not letting anything get over the fence is the name of the game.”

Giselle Alvarez’s three-run home run for Los Alamitos in the third inning broke the game open. Alvarez’s hooking shot over the right-field fence came during a nine-pitch at-bat, and it scored Aya Terrones and Callie Fitzpatrick.

Alvarez was familiar with Oaks Christian pitcher Micaela Kastor from the club softball circuit.

“She’s so good,” Alvarez said of Kastor. “After my first at-bat, I felt I was more prepared for my second time up. I adjusted and put a good swing on it. When it was in the air, I was just hoping it wouldn’t turn foul.”

Los Alamitos’ Giselle Alvarez finishes this 9-pitch at-bat with a 3-run HR over the right-field fence. The Griffins take a 3-0 lead over Oaks Christian in the third inning. @LosAlamitosHigh | @LosAl_Softball pic.twitter.com/3Tu6fMpSiC

— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) May 14, 2022

Kastor, a Notre Dame commit, has been one of the most dominating pitchers in Southern California this postseason. She had 13 strikeouts in the team’s 9-0 quarterfinal win over Murrieta Mesa before striking out five Los Alamitos batters in the first two innings.

“I felt really good about today,” Kastor said. “We won 31 straight games this season. I’m really proud of this team.”

Kastor also threw a complete game and finished with six strikeouts. She went 2 for 3 from the plate.

Oaks Christian coach Pete Ackermann has coached some very good teams in his many years at the helm, and he thinks this one might be the best.

“I think so,” Ackermann said. “Not considering the end result, then you talk about how far we’ve come and the 31 straight wins. I think it’s the best team I’ve had.”

The semifinal berth earns Oaks Christian more softball to play. The Lions’ season will continue in the CIF State SoCal Regional playoffs the week following the CIF-SS final.



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