Softball: Hawks take home EYL championship

Mission Oak defeats Tulare Union 4-1 for sole possession of first place

TULARE – Not including last year’s canceled season, the Hawks have won the East Yosemite League (EYL) in three of four seasons under head coach Illisa Facchini. However this season’s league title is extra special as it is the first time they didn’t have to share the crown with another team, after defeating Tulare Union last Tuesday for sole possession of first place.

As she’s done all season, senior Payton Quinonez carried the load offensively for the Hawks. She scored the game’s first and second run, starting with a solo home run in the top of the third inning. After a single in the top of the fifth inning, she stole second and third base before being brought home to put the team up 2-0. Second baseman Kailey Silva got in on the action with an RBI single bringing home junior Elizabeth Garcia to put the Hawks up 3-0.

Quinonez wasn’t done leaving her mark on the game as her RBI single in the top of the sixth inning brought home sophomore Ashia Hernandez to put their team up 4-0. In the bottom of the same inning, Tulare Union had their best chance to get back in the game. Following two singles and a walk, they had the bases loaded with no outs. Sophomore Taylor Hastin’s sacrifice fly ball brought home the Tribe’s lone run. Mission Oak sophomore Grace Chojnacki was on the mound and was able to successfully get her team out of the inning with no more runs allowed. She ended the game with 11 strikeouts.

Mission Oak ended the season on a five-game winning streak with a 9-3 EYL record. In a normal season, schools would play each team in their league twice but there was an extra round added this year. That worked out in Mission Oak’s favor as they lost the first two games to Tulare Union but was able to pull out the third victory which sealed the league title.

The Hawks also won the EYL in 2017 during Facchini’s first season as head coach. They shared the title with Monache that year and then shared it again in 2019 with Tulare Western.

At the plate, Quinonez has led the way with a strong .608 batting average, which ranks her in the top 15 in the Central Section. She also finished in a tie for first in the section with 48 hits. Chojnacki has been a stud on the mound with 93 strikeouts which ranks her in the top 15 in the Central Section.

The Hawks will continue their season as a No. 4 seed in the Division III Valley playoffs. They’ll host St. Joseph tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 p.m.

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