SFT: Chargers pound ball in playoff opener, 10-0

Jade Sinskul hit two homers in DP's CIF Division 4 playoff opener. (Presidio Sports photo)

Jade Sinskul hit two homers in DP’s CIF Division 4 playoff opener. (Presidio Sports file photo)

If there were any signs of rust on the Dos Pueblos bats after nearly two weeks without a game, it was knocked off early in Thursday’s CIF Division 4 first-round playoff game.

The second-seeded Chargers banged out 14 hits — seven for extra bases, including three home runs — and routed Hawthorne, 10-0, in game called on the mercy rule in the sixth inning. Lani Evans ended the game and put an exclamation point on the victory with a solo blast over the right-field fence.

Catcher Jade Sinskul smashed two homers, giving her a team-best eight on the season. Veronika Gulvin hit a bullet for a two-run double in the first inning and Kai Uyesaka hammered a double into the gap in right-center for two more runs in the second against the No. 3 team from the Ocean League.

Adding to Hawthorne’s misery, Gulvin fired a no-hitter and struck out 12. She allowed only one ball to be hit out of the infield; Michelle Romero ran down a deep fly to left and made a nice catch in the top of the sixth.

“We hit pretty good; we were on,” said the UCSB-bound Gulvin of DP’s hitting. “We hadn’t played in a while but we had really strong practices this past week.”

Said Sinskul: “A lot of us were nervous today because we hadn’t played in a while. We hadn’t faced pitchers like (Hawthorne’s) because Veronika and Lani throw heat all of the time.”

Coach Jon Uyesaka said the players are starting to have some success hitting against the team’s two future Division 1 pitchers (Evans signed with Iona in New York) in practice.

“We were doing better at that, so to see that growth carry over is good,” he said. “We haven’t been able to touch Lani and Veronika before, but these last couple of weeks we’ve been putting the bat on the ball.”

Needless to say, Hawthorne’s pitchers took a beating.

After striking out in her first at-bat, Sinskul punished the Cougars (16-9-1). She hit a solo homer just inside the right-field foul pole off second pitcher Natalie Rocha in the third inning, boosting DP’s lead to 5-0 lead.

“The next at-bat I was really ready to watch the ball, keep my head in and wait for my pitch,” said Sinskul, who had a two-homer game against Rio Mesa this year and hit two in a playoff win at Beaumont last season.

In the fifth, she hit a high drive over the left-field fence against third pitcher Alyssa Casillas for a two-run shot and a 9-0 advantage.

The Chargers (24-4) had a chance to end the game in the fifth but they stranded runners at second and third.

Evans took care of it leading off the sixth. She jumped on a Casillas pitch and crushed it over the right-field fence. It was her seventh homer and the team’s 27th of the season.

Thursday’s victory was DP’s first set in its goal to get back to the CIF final in Irvine. It’s been knocked out in the semifinals the last two years.

The Chargers haven’t adopted a slogan or motto for what they hope is a long playoff run.

“We haven’t set a motto, we’re just giving it our all. This is the final push,” said Gulvin.

“I think our mindset is just get there,” said Sinskul. “We just want to get there and experience it, and we’re going to play our hearts out.”

Uyesaka preaches a one-game-at-a-time approach. But the topic of getting past the semifinals always seems to come up.

“We try to focus on what’s head of us, but that’s one of the things that keeps coming back in our conversations: preparing to get all the way through,” he said

It’s one down and three rounds to go. Round Two is Tuesday at Palmdale-Knight, an 8-0 first-round winner over Pasadena Maranatha. Knight (21-4) finished second in the Golden League behind Division 4 top-seed Highland.

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