MONTEBELLO — Estancia High senior softball catcher Bryanna Vernon did not hesitate when asked what she would remember the most about this year's Eagles squad.
"Just being with everybody," Vernon said. "We were pretty close."
This year's Eagles accomplished big things. Their 16 wins were the most the program has had since 2007. They made the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Once they got there, though, they ran into a Schurr team that was able to make Estancia pay for its mistakes.
The host Spartans pulled away late in the game and defeated the Eagles, 9-1, in the first-round game Tuesday at Schurr High, ending Estancia's season.
Schurr (19-9), which Coach Jackie Montanez-Ramirez said captured its fifth straight Almont League title this year, moves on to Thursday's second round. Estancia (16-8), which finished third in the Orange Coast League, was left to reflect on its season.
"They were a first-place team and we were a third-place team, but we battled," Estancia Coach Carrie Lester said. "We got seven innings, and we finished with 16 wins and eight losses. It stinks to end the season, but it was a great season. I'm super-proud of them."
Schurr sophomore starting pitcher Karen Roman, who went the distance and allowed just three hits, was not overpowering. She struck out just four Eagles batters. Yet, it took until the fifth inning for the Eagles to get their only run.
With one out, senior Stephanie Enriquez was hit by a pitch, and junior Karina Camerena drew a full-count walk. The runners advanced on a passed ball, and Enriquez scored on a groundout by leadoff hitter Isabelle Morales.
That cut the Spartans' lead to 4-1, but they pulled away in the bottom of the frame by scoring five runs. The big shot was a three-run home run by senior Valerie Contreras, as the ball got past the right fielder and kept rolling and rolling.
Marlysha Nicolaides also had her second double of the game in the fifth inning for Schurr, and she later scored as well.
"Hits are always nice," said Montanez-Ramirez, whose team got nearly half of its 11 hits in the inning. "When they're together, it's even better. I kind of felt like my players were pressing a little bit. It looked like they were a little timid at first, and I think [Contreras' home run] really boosted morale and got them going."
Estancia, which was coming off a 3-2 win over Calabasas Viewpoint in a wild-card game Monday, did not help senior pitcher Kelly Hinkle with its fielding. The Eagles committed four errors, and four of the Spartans' nine runs were unearned. Two of them scored on a two-out infield throwing error in the second inning, helping Schurr take a 3-0 lead.
Hinkle, a co-captain, walked just one batter in the final pitching performance of her four-year varsity career. She struck out two. Senior co-captain Chloe Davis, sophomore Maya Van Den Heever and Vernon had the hits for Estancia.
Vernon, who was also a key girls' basketball player during her time at Estancia, hit the ball hard in each of her three at-bats.
"It was just fun playing with everybody," said Vernon, who plans to play softball next year at Orange Coast College. "I'm really going to miss it."
Schurr moves on to play Victorville Silverado in the second round Thursday.
CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs
Schurr 9, Estancia 1
SCORE BY INNINGS
Estancia 000 010 0 - 1 3 4
Schurr 120 150 x - 9 11 0
Hinkle and Vernon; Roman and Martinez. W – Roman, 4-2. L – Hinkle, 16-8. 2B – Nicolaides (Sch) 2, Jones (Sch). HR – Contreras (Sch).