SFT: Evans leads Chargers into the CIF quarterfinals

Lani Evans is a cool, confidant young player for the Dos Pueblos softball team.

When the sophomore got the unexpected starting assignment in Tuesday’s second-round CIF Division 4 playoff game against Maranatha, she didn’t flinch.

And she made her coach and team proud.

Evans pitched four shutout innings, striking out six, and drove in two runs, leading the Chargers to a 5-0 victory at the DP softball complex.

The victory sends DP (23-3-1) into Thursday’s quarterfinals at La Quinta in the low desert.

After going through a hard workout on Monday, Evans expected coach Jon Uyesaka to go with his usual plan of starting sophomore Veronika Gulvin. But Uyesaka decided to change things up.

The change in routine didn’t faze Evans.

“I was a little surprised but I prepared myself and I felt like I was ready to go,” she said.

“I think it was a little bit of a surprise for her to start today,” Uyesaka said. “She had an intensive workout yesterday, expecting us to go with our routine, but I really need both pitchers to be ready for Thursday. I wanted to get both of them ready today at home. I have confidence in both of them.”

When Evans took the mound, all she wanted to do was mow through the order as quickly as possible so her team could hit.

“I just really wanted to help my team get in the dugout fast so we could get hits and get ahead early,” she said.

The Chargers were a little too anxious at the plate in the first inning and went down in order. But they got things going in the second, scoring three runs. Gulvin drew a leadoff walk from Maranatha starter Michelle Lieng and was sacrificed to second base by Alyssa Lewis. After a strikeout, Haley Peterson lined a single to center field, putting runners at the corners. Evans came up and singled in Gulvin for the first run.

Pinch runners Emi Parker and Lauren Marmo scored on throwing errors on a grounder hit by Jade Sinskul and a bunt by Maddy Buie.

Maranatha (17-10) had a tough day in the field, committing five errors.

Pitching with an early lead, made the starting assignment that much more enjoyable for Evans.

“She’s a very good pitcher,” Uyesaka said. “She’s got a lot of confidence. When she warms up well and she’s moving the ball, she’s reinforcing the fact she’s right up there at the top of the heap of pitchers in our division.”

She’s also an effective hitter.

Evans singled in Monica Salas with one out in the sixth inning and Sinskul followed with a RBI single.

“I felt pretty good coming in from the last game and I just felt really relaxed up there today,” she said of her 2-for-2 performance. “I was surprised how relaxed I was; it was really fun. I was really happy how I did up there today.”

After Evans struck out the side in the fourth, Gulvin moved into the circle from first base and finished the shutout.

“They’re both elite pitchers and I like to mix it up a little bit,” Uyesaka said. “My plan was to have each of them go through the lineup once, so (the batters) don’t see each pitcher too much.”

It’s all about getting ready for Thursday’s quarterfinals.