Inland Empire: Corona Santiago vs. El Modena highlights softball semifinals



Division 1

Corona Santiago at Orange El Modena, Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.

When it comes to entertainment, these teams belong right at the top. Santiago won its quarterfinal game Thursday at Huntington Beach Marina on an eighth-inning solo home run by No. 9 hitter Brenda Lee. The Vanguards survived the second round with a 12-11 victory against second-seeded Etiwanda, throwing out the tying run at the plate to end the game after the runner tried to score from first on ball hit into the gap. El Modena traveled to Valencia the next day and scored twice in the seventh to defeat the Vikings, 5-4. The Vanguards are led by Michigan-bound pitcher Haylie Wagner, who is probably most dangerous with a bat in her hands. El Modena needs to figure out a way to keep Santiago lead-off hitter Lauren Sweet off the bases. The senior catcher is also a threat to hit the ball out of the park, owning 13 home runs for the third-seeded Sharks this season.


Division 3

Chino Hills at Westlake Village Oaks Christian, Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.

These teams met in a quarterfinal last season and Chino Hills walked away with a 5-0 victory behind a four-hitter from sophomore pitcher Nikki Innamorato. Now a year older, Innamorato is sporting an 18-5 record for the fourth-seeded Huskies, who have allowed a total of one run in their three previous playoff victories. Chino Hills features five starters hitting .367 or better, led by junior third baseman Garie Blando (.430). Oaks Christian is the top-seeded team in the division and the Lions have played like it, shutting out their last five opponents. Senior pitcher Kiana Quolas (Coastal Carolina) has been leading the defensive effort, notching 27 consecutive scoreless innings from the circle.


Division 4

Goleta Dos Pueblos at San Bernardino Aquinas, Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.

Aquinas has few weaknesses to exploit, which might explain its 24-game winning streak. The top-seeded Falcons showed some vulnerability in their 6-4 quarterfinal victory Thursday against visiting Fullerton Troy, allowing more than two runs for just the second time this season. Freshman pitcher Cecily Ruiz improved to 24-1 and junior shortstop Danielle Vega drove in her 69th run of the season, which equals the state lead. Hannah Harris is the top pitcher and hitter for Dos Pueblos, which outlasted fourth-seeded Huntington Beach Ocean View in the quarterfinals, 1-0, in 11 innings.

Division 4

La Quinta at Fontana Kaiser, Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.

These teams met in the season opener nearly three months ago and La Quinta won, 5-0, behind a two-hitter from Jessica Melcher. The Blackhawks recorded just three other shutouts this season, instead relying on an offense led by sophomore shortstop Thalia Ortiz, who is 7-for-12 in the playoffs with a home run and five RBIs, and sophomore second baseman Illy Jimenez, who is hitting .440 on the season. Kaiser has survived consecutive extra-inning games to advance to the program’s first section semifinal. Jesslene Contreras has had the hot bat in the postseason for the Cats.

Division 5

El Monte Arroyo at Beaumont, Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.

Beaumont junior right-hander Alyssa Fuimaono (22-4) has won her last 10 decisions. She has been backed by an offense that’s hitting .366 on the season and slammed 27 home runs Sophomore midfielder Stephanie Tickemyer is hitting .441 with seven home runs for Beaumont. Arroyo will likely counter with junior pitcher Jaclyn Wagner (17-4).

Division 6

Redlands Citrus Valley at Lake Isabella Kern Valley, Tuesday, 3:15 p.m.

Citrus Valley is averaging nearly 12 runs a game on its current eight-game winning streak. Kern Valley has won 16 straight games.