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Aliso Niguel shortstop Casey Antrasian hits the ball during a high school softball game against El Toro, Tuesday,, Feb. 21, 2023 at Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Aliso Niguel won the game 5-4. (Ryan Kuhn, SOCoPrepSports.com)

Aliso Niguel

Casey Antrasian is making the most of her ‘first and last go-around’ with Aliso Niguel softball

The senior shortstop comes up with the game-winning hit in a 5-4 win over El Toro

ALISO VIEJO — No one could have taken a smile away from Aliso Niguel senior shortstop Casey Antrasian on Tuesday evening. 

In the brief moments she stood on first base before her team sprinted out of the dugout to celebrate her walk off hit to seize a 5-4 win over El Toro, this was her time to shine. 

“This season means a lot to me,” Antrasian said. “It’s kind of my first and last go-around.”

Antrasian hasn’t been able to play a full softball season in high school.

Her freshman year was shortened by the coronavirus pandemic. Over the next two years, she was forced to watch from the dugout after tearing her ACL during a practice. 

“She is one of the most remarkable humans I have ever met,” Wolverines coach Randie Baldwin said. “She has been such a positive force for us this season.”

Aliso Niguel couldn’t have asked for a better start to its season. 

It won five out offs first six games and was averaging close to 11 runs per game. 

It even jumped out to an early lead over the Chargers when when senior first baseman Chloe Lesko scored on a throwing error. Gigi Ganje then sent Antrasian home on a sacrifice fly.

The Wolverines are coming off a 15-win season but missed out on a playoff berth with a loss in the final week to San Juan Hills. This year, a senior heavy team that includes Lesko, Ganje and pitchers Katie Dunakin and Alex Caouette, look to make a deep run.

“It’s all Coach Baldwin,” Lesko said. “She preaches about having a championship mindset from the start. The championship isn’t just in May. It’s right now and it’s every game until then.”

El Toro answered with four consecutive runs in the fourth inning that saw RBIs from Olivia Fullerton and Andrea Gambino, but after a pitching change, the momentum shifted back in Aliso Niguel’s favor. 

Olivia Kuhnel threw four complete innings but being so early in the season, Baldwin didn’t want to extend her pitchers so they were limited to so many pitches. 

Katie Dunakin entered the game and limited the Chargers to just one hit. They were able to get the first two runners on base in the seventh inning but three straight outs ended the inning.

Lesko doubled to start the bottom of the seventh inning and all Antrasian had to do was drive her in.

“I was just trying to move the runner but the game played in our favor,” said Antrasian, who is batting .390 this season. “It was a collective team win.”

Aliso Niguel will wait for the upcoming rain to pass and continue its season on Feb. 28 when it hosts Yorba Linda.

“We have to understand what our standard is and having that winning mentality,” Baldwin said. “There’s a selflessness among everyone in that dugout. 

Ryan was born and raised in Dana Point went to Dana Hills High School. He graduated from Sacramento State University with a BA in Journalism. Throughout his career as a sports journalist, he has covered high schools, colleges, and professional teams. After working for multiple newspapers in as many states, he came to the conclusion that what he really wanted was to make sure the high schools in his hometown area got the sports coverage they deserved. Follow him on Twitter @rskuhn

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