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Mission Viejo softball blows out Gahr to reach Regional Division 1 semifinals: Recap & highlights

The Diablos scored 12 runs between the fifth and sixth innings.

CERRITOS– Fresh off a Southern Section Division 2 title, Mission Viejo capped off an undefeated month of May on Tuesday with one of its best offensive performances of 2022. 

The Diablos scored 12 combined runs in the fifth and sixth innings to drub CIFSS Division 1 semifinalist Gahr 13-2. Their 11-run lead after six innings triggered the game-ending mercy rule, sending them to the CIF Southern Region Division 1 semifinals and ending Gahr's phenomenal playoff run.

The first three innings were scoreless, and the game looked to be a pitchers' duel between sophomore aces Sofia Elliott and Marley Cortez. Cortez, a two-way breakout star for the Gladiators, had her changeup working early on and caught a lot of Diablos off balance. But Mission Viejo blew the game open in a hurry once the floodgates opened.

Shayna Glass led off the fourth inning with a base hit, and later scored on a Hailey Stammer single after advancing into scoring position on a single from Sydney Denser. Mission Viejo expanded upon its 1-0 lead an inning later as a combination of both explosive offense and some uncharacteristic defensive lapses from Gahr, which was missing a small handful of starters and committed at least four errors. By the time the top of the fifth was over, the Diablos had a commanding 5-0 lead.

A five-run lead is especially commanding when a team has Elliott in the circle. She only allowed two total runs for the Diablos throughout the CIFSS D2 playoffs, and on Tuesday had success pounding the bottom of the strike zone consistently to force soft contact, while occasionally also overpowering some batters higher in the zone with heat. 

Gahr got to her in the bottom of the fifth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Hayley Oliva and Cortez. In total she allowed two runs in five innings against a formidable offense, and her month of May was so dominant that Tuesday technically constituted her least effective outing of the playoffs.

Mission Viejo turned the rout on in the sixth inning, and once it was on, it was on. Eight straight Diablos reached base to start the inning, five of which were against Hailey Sanchez, who had just entered the circle, before Cortez retook over pitching duties. In total, 10 Diablos got on before Gahr got the last two outs of the inning, and eight runs were scored.

Freshman Reece Uehara took over for Elliott to finish the game in the bottom of the sixth, and didn't allow a baserunner.

Sarah Araujo, Sydney Denser, and Sydni Woods all had three-hit performances for Mission Viejo, which moved to 27-5 and will take on Oaks Christian on Thursday.