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Highland High features one of the Golden League’s most feared lineups. The Bulldogs boast a .332 team batting average and have three players – Noel Luongo, Marissa De Lima and Stephanie Parker – hitting better than .400 and ranked among the league’s top five in batting average. In the last two weeks, Highland has gotten production from an unexpected source. Jennifer Alestri, a slight, 5-foot-5 sophomore second baseman, is 3 for 5 with two grand slams and 11 RBIs in her past three games. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsAlestri was 2 for 3 with a grand slam in Tuesday’s 9-0 win Tuesday over Palmdale. She also had a grand slam in her only official at-bat in a 19-3 rout of Littlerock on May 2. Alestri, whose natural position is shortstop, hasn’t come out of nowhere. She was the only freshman to start last season, and Highland coach Dan Morrow believed she had great potential. But her recent power surge is a surprise, considering she had just one home run and six RBIs in her previous 14 games. “When you look at her, you really wouldn’t think she has that kind of power,” Morrow said, “but she just has a really sweet stroke.” She also has excelled defensively and leads the team in putouts. “She works really hard, and she’s done a great job for us the last couple of weeks,” Morrow said. Nice accomplishment: Highland’s quest for a share of a Golden League title effectively ended May 4, when the Bulldogs lost 11-6 to Knight. Highland (12-6 overall, 9-2 heading into Thursday’s game against Lancaster), was the league’s surprise story after winning 10 consecutive games and sweeping through the first round of league, a run highlighted by an 3-1 victory over Quartz Hill (17-3-1, 10-1 going into Thursday’s game against Antelope Valley). The Bulldogs clinched second place with Tuesday’s victory over Palmdale. Morrow said he thought Highland had a chance of getting a first-round home game in the Southern Section Div. III playoffs. “I think it’s a nice accomplishment,” Morrow said of his team’s second-place finish. “Last year we didn’t even make the playoffs, so it shows that we have improved.” Morrow was disappointed in his team’s play against Knight, when it committed four errors. He said he thought the Bulldogs might have let down after a 10-0 loss to Quartz Hill on April 25. “We lost for all the wrong reasons,” Morrow said. “We didn’t play very well at all, and (Knight) did.” Knight moves: Knight (11-7, 4-4), a second-year program with no seniors, clinched its first playoff berth by beating Highland. The Hawks play drew high praise from Morrow. “I’m proud to say I’m in their league,” Morrow said. “They’re not afraid to dive and get their uniforms dirty, and the they looked like they were having a great time playing softball when they beat us. “Hopefully, they’ll get a playoff win. That’d be fun.” Legacy: Palmdale senior pitcher Johanna Ilejay and senior catcher Rebecca Zapata concluded distinguished four-year varsity careers in Thurday’s game against Littlerock. Ilejay was the Falcons’ second-leading hitter, batting .423, and was 7-13 with a 2.42 ERA. Only 44 of the 107 runs she allowed were earned. Zapata batted .379 with four homers and 17 RBIs. Palmdale coach Deb DiMeglio said both will play at Antelope Valley College next year. “When Johanna and Rebecca came here, they put our program on the map,” DiMeglio said. “They’ve brought a lot of competitiveness, and they’ll both be missed.” Palmdale returns a solid nucleus of young players that includes sophomore standout Stephanie Gutierrez, who batted .425 with six homers and 31 RBIs. Power numbers: Quartz Hill junior Candice Miller among four players tied for third in the Southern Section with nine home runs. Lancaster freshman Shawna Wright is among four tied for seventh with eight. email@example.com (818) 713-3607160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!