It was Lowell High School in a runaway — again.
After dominating the Academic Athletic Association season, the Cardinals entered the San Francisco Section playoffs as the prohibitive favorite to win a third consecutive championship. On Tuesday, Lowell did just that, rolling to an 11-1, mercy-rule victory over Washington in five innings at San Francisco State University. Lowell plays Oakland Tech in the best-of-three Transbay Series starting on Friday.
“The feeling of winning never gets old,” said Cardinals coach Sascha Ray, who has six San Francisco Section titles in 10 years at the school. “It means a lot because every senior class is different, and to see the joy on their faces is something you never forget.”
Lowell’s 2013 season will go down as one of the most dominating performances in AAA history. After going a perfect 13-0 in league play — 10 wins came via the mercy rule — Lowell went 2-0 in the playoffs, outscoring its opponents by a combined score of 26-1. The Cardinals’ closest game was a 6-3 win over Balboa on March 12, but every other victory was by eight runs or more.
The Cardinals actually had a bit of a scare early Tuesday as Washington scored its only run in the top of the first inning, courtesy of a Maggie Lam single. However, the Cardinals came roaring back with five runs in the second and two each in the next three innings to win going away. Lowell super sophomore Jena Lacayo came on in relief for starter Majenta Strongheart in the second inning, and all Lacayo did was pitch four shutout innings.
Lacayo also had two doubles, the second of which she hammered to left field to make it 10-1 with no out in the bottom of the fifth. Two outs later, Alana Poole ended things by getting her game-high third hit of the game — all singles — to score courtesy runner Michelle Louie and invoke the mercy rule. The Cardinals outhit Washington 15-5. Gretel Gunther, Samantha Yee and Kelly Wong — Lowell’s first three batters in its lineup — combined for six hits and six RBIs.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Lacayo said. “Just to be able to win it with these girls is great. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Neither could Ray, who applauded Strongheart and Lacayo for putting their egos aside to form a deadly 1-2 pitching
“It’s beautiful when you have humble players who sacrifice for the team,” Ray said. “We’ve got players who put the team first all year, and it showed again in the championship.”