Los Angeles Preps: Cheyanne Tarango

1. If you're going to lose a game, you might as well do so in epic fashion. That's what happened to Anaheim Canyon in its first Southern Section Softball Championship. The Comanches, who were a third-place team from their league, took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning on the strength of Cheyanne Tarango's pitching and a home run by Taylor Swearingen. But three walks brought up Corona Santiago's best hitter with the bases loaded and two outs; Lauren Sweet hit a grand slam to win the game. It has to rank as one of the best finals ever.

2. Cypress Oxford Academy was vying for its third consecutive title, but the Patriots were beaten by Pasadena Poly, 10-0. It was a stark contrast to the softball final. Given the choice, we're guessing Oxford Academy -- which finished 26-3 -- would have preferred to go down in epic fashion, too. They weren't the only losers in the finals. Esperanza, which had earlier in the playoffs beaten second-seeded Mater Dei, scored in the first inning but did no damage afterward in a 7-1 loss to Riverside North in the Division 1 championship.

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Division 1 softball: Corona Santiago 4, Anaheim Canyon 1

June, 4, 2011
Lauren SweetMartin Henderson for ESPNLA.comCorona Santiago catcher Lauren Sweet hit a walk-off grand slam to clinch Division 1 title.

IRVINE -- It was the biggest moment of their high school careers, and the Southern Section Division 1 championship came down to one at-bat.

One team's best pitcher against one team's best hitter.

Cheyanne Tarango, the Anaheim Canyon pitcher in the signature performance of her career, was trying to close out Corona Santiago against one of the biggest obstacles in the state: Lauren Sweet, who had 14 home runs.

It was a duel won in grand fashion -- by the hitter.

Sweet drilled a 3-and-1 pitch over the center-field fence -- only her team's second hit of the game -- for a walk-off grand slam that provided a 4-1 victory for third-seeded Santiago.

The Saturday night blast at Barber Park gave the Sharks (28-5) their fourth title and first since 2006, and makes them the probable state champion. They were ranked No. 10 in the nation by ESPN Rise, and the victory was their 20th in a row.

It denied Canyon (23-8) in its first finals appearance. The third-place team from the Century League had beaten No. 5 Los Alamitos in the semifinals, and had Santiago on the ropes.

It was one of the best high school finals in memory.

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ANAHEIM – For two rounds of the playoffs -- three if you include a wild-card game to play into the first round -- La Palma Kennedy had been living the dream.

Cheyanne Tarango
ESPNLA.comCanyon pitcher Cheyanne Tarango, who has signed with Tennessee, got a big lead early and cruised to a win.
A series of upsets, including a victory over top-seeded Esperanza -- ranked No. 4 in the nation, no less -- had the Fighting Irish in a confident mood.

But the dream turned nightmarish against Anaheim Canyon on Thursday. Irish pitcher Candice Shadwell was hit hard, and Canyon rode a five-run first inning to an 8-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section championships for softball.

“We had so much confidence,” said Kennedy coach Sarah Mesa, whose team scored an 8-5 victory over Los Osos in the previous round. “The first inning was really hard for us. They were the better team today.”

The early uprising gave Canyon confidence, too, and the Comanches weren’t lacking for it to begin with.

“We have enough (confidence) to win,” said third baseman Kelly Stowe, who had a single, double and triple, scored twice and drove in three runs. “We’re not overconfident. We’re not going to be cocky. As soon as you do that, you lose.”

With a five-run lead, pitcher Cheyanne Tarango was unbeatable. She struck out 11, and allowed only four hits -- two in the sixth inning when Kennedy scored its only run, on Samantha Concepcion’s single.

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