ORANGE >> Shea O’Leary vs. Maddy Dwyer. Valencia High School vs. Orange Lutheran. Future Texas Longhorn vs. future Stanford Cardinal.
It was a high-stakes pitching matchup befitting the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon. Playoff softball at its finest.
“It was like travel ball,” said Valencia catcher Ally Shipman, a Tennessee recruit.
Each ace dug in, refusing to relent. They displayed pinpoint control. Strong sequencing. And of course, filthy movement to throw pearls of zeroes on the scoreboard.
Eventually host Orange Lutheran pushed across an unearned run in the fifth inning to escape with a 1-0 victory and end Valencia’s sparkling campaign at 24-8.
“It was fun pitching to them. They’re a very good team,” O’Leary said. “Unfortunately we came out on the wrong end of this one.”
Dwyer threw a one-hitter with six strikeouts, no walks and one hit batter for reigning CIF finalist Orange Lutheran (28-4).
O’Leary had a three-hitter with four strikeouts and no walks for Valencia..
It was an old-fashioned pitching duel that is rare to see since the pitching rubber was moved from 40 feet to 43 feet.
“It’s a game of inches,” Valencia coach Donna Lee said. “One inch here or one inch there and we win this game 1-0.”
Each team had exactly one look at pushing across a run, both in the fifth inning.
Amarys Miller Godsey smashed a single to left, the only hit for Valencia.
Then Orange Lutheran gave Valencia a gift, making an errant throw on Alexis Genovese’s sacrifice bunt to put runners at first and second.
“I just wanted to get a pitch I could drive and get some base runners for our pitcher,” Godsey said. “I thought this was going to be the beginning of the offense.”
After a sacrifice bunt by Ashley Griffith, Macayla Paragas came to bat with runners at second and third with two outs.
Paragas was called out for stepping outside of the batter’s box while making…