By Rick Assad
For just the fourth time in St. Finbar Parish School history, and the first time for a girls’ team, the Vikings won a Catholic Youth Organization Open Division championship when the softball team defeated American Martyrs 6-2 on Saturday at St. Paul’s High in Santa Fe Springs.
The Vikings went 7-0 during a truncated season because of COVID-19 and won two playoff games.
On Saturday, the Vikings tallied two runs in the top of the first inning and it was tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the frame when American Martyrs scored a pair.
St. Finbar scored two runs in the top of the second for a 4-2 edge and it became 5-1 when the Vikings added a run in the third. Two frames later, the Vikings powered in front 6-2.
“We went into the game against a team with outstanding sports teams and we were a little intimidated,” St. Finbar coach Mary Lara said. “We scored two runs immediately and it pumped up our girls. It was a new ballgame. We hit the ball and did what they’re supposed to do and our defense played great.”
Seventh grader Valentina Reyes, the No. 1 pitcher for the Vikings, was in the circle in the title game.
Reyes went six innings, allowing two hits with nine strikeouts and two walks and also found time to score a run.
Eighth grade shortstop and No. 2 pitcher Cat Sandoval clubbed three hits that included two doubles and a single with two runs scored.
Eighth grade catcher Sophiee Velasquez went two for three and bashed a single and a double with a run tallied.
“Sophiee called a great game,” Lara said of her catcher, who during the season was on base 18 times in 20 appearances.
Seventh grader and outfielder Daniella Chriscoe smacked a double and scored a run and seventh grade third baseman Trinity Taylan added a run.
“The girls just never gave up. In any tight games, they refuse to lose,” Lara said. “It was intense. They were going to win.”
The rest of the team includes seventh grade outfielder Elizabeth Gabagat, seventh grade second baseman Isabel Batres, seventh grade first baseman Abby Knowles, seventh grade outfielder Samantha Samarasinghe and seventh grade pitcher/outfielder Nicole Gowanlock.
“At first it was Sophiee and Valentina, and the other girls just sort of watching them, but by the end of the season every player became a contributor,” Lara said of the journey from the first game to the last. “I’m so proud of my girls.”
“Congratulations on an outstanding season. You made us all proud to be a Viking,” Mike Graceffo, the St. Finbar Athletic Director said. “That championship banner I’m ordering is going to be awesome hanging in our gym.”
In the previous playoff game, St. Finbar defeated St. Paschal [Thousand Oaks] 3-2 and rallied for two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning after falling behind 2-1 in the top of the sixth.
After neither team scored a run, St. Finbar, which outscored its opponents 65-10 during the season, led 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning but trailed 2-1 after five and a half innings.
Lara and her staff want to thank the Burbank Parks and Recreation Department and especially Rena Ghamelian in the sports department for providing fields for games and practice.