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Cerritos stung harder by Oxnard in another first round exit

Cerritos Dons stung by Oxnard Yellowjackets

Cerritos freshman pinch runner Megan Darling is safe on a stolen base in the bottom of the third inning of last Thursday's California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division II first round playoff game against Oxnard. Darling would be stranded as the Lady Dons lost 2-1 to the Yellowjackets. Photo by ARMANDO J. VARGAS, SR.

By Loren Kopff

CIF SOUTHERN SECTION DIVISION II SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS

The sting that was inflicted on the Cerritos softball team by Oxnard last Thursday was more painful than the one dealt by the Yellowjackets last season. The two teams met for the second straight season in a California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division II first round contest and this time around, it was nothing like last season’s 10-0 loss.
Head coach Bob Medina witnessed a lackluster performance by the Lady Dons in a 2-1 home defeat that left a very bitter taste in his mouth towards the end of the game as well as after the game.
“I don’t think my seniors stepped up to what they should have done,” Medina said. “We gave them all the opportunities in the world and they didn’t do it. We had a couple of hitting practices [during the week] where we were trying to hit and some of the kids had to go home early.”
Cerritos was held to a season-low three hits by Oxnard’s Alexis Edwards, who had entered the contest with an earned run average of 1.30. Edwards allowed only two runners to reach base through the first three innings. Senior center fielder Sarah Smith was safe on an error on the second pitch thrown by Edwards in the bottom of the first. Smith then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With one out, a pitch thrown to freshman pitcher Jennifer Iseri went all the way to the backstop and the speedy Smith bolted towards home, only to be tagged out by Edwards to thwart the early scoring opportunity.
“It took a bad bounce off the net and came right back into the catcher’s hand,” Medina said. “I think she would have been safe. But that’s a decision you make as you’re running down the line. You go or you stop and Sarah’s a good athlete. She gets around a lot of people at home plate. I feel good with her going in at home.”
Edwards retired the next six before senior third baseman Alyssa Marquez singled to right with two outs in the third. But in the next frame, the Lady Dons finally got to Edwards when sophomore designated player Lilianna Herrera and Iseri both reached on errors. Freshman left fielder Madison Lee took the first pitch she saw and sharply singled to right, bringing in Herrera. A sacrifice from senior first baseman Alex Avila moved junior courtesy runner Bianca Espinoza to third but she too would be thrown out at home and Lee would be stranded at third.
After that, Edwards retired 10 of the final 12 batters, only hitting Iseri to lead off the sixth and yielding a base hit to Avila with two outs in the sixth. Edwards finished the game throwing 78 pitches and striking out two.
Meanwhile, Iseri was dodging ample scoring chances by the Yellowjackets, who left the bases loaded in the top of the first with one out, runners at second and third with two outs in the third and a runner at third with two outs in the fourth. But in the fifth, Xochitl Coronado reached on an error and following a sacrifice from Julia Garcia, Ariana Lopez launched a first-pitch home run over the left center fence for the 2-1 advantage. Lopez had entered the game as Oxnard’s leading hitter, sporting a .506 average with 35 runs batted in and five home runs.
“Some of the younger ones are playing our way of playing the ball and some of the older ones are making errors,” Medina said. “We took away their little left field corner and they had to resort to the bunt and they had to resort to swinging away. I don’t think we really executed today.”
The second place representatives from the Pacific View League had a chance to add to their lead in the next inning but Smith, the Baylor University signee, robbed Edwards of a home run with a nifty grab over the fence. Oxnard would proceed to put four more runners on base in the final two frames but none advanced past second.
Cerritos, which finished in a tie for second place in the Suburban League after sharing the title with Mayfair last season, ends the season at 18-7. However, the Lady Dons lost their last four and five of their last nine. The Lady Dons, who won 18 games for the first time since 2001, have yet to get past the first round of the playoffs since 2004.
“I’m upset with them,” Medina said. “I’m not happy with their performance today. They can beat anybody. It’s just the way they played. I’m very disappointed and I told the kids. The kids have known for four or five days now. How can you celebrate after a 10 and a half inning loss [to La Mirada] and how can you celebrate in the sixth inning when you’re tied up [against La Mirada]? And how can you celebrate an 11-inning loss against La Mirada? It’s like they couldn’t wait for [the season] to be over.
“At some point in time, Cerritos High School is going to have a leader,” he continued. “We fight for that. That’s very important-to get a leader. Who’s your leader? I don’t know. They follow the leader now and the leader is your upperclassmen who are missing days. It’s not what you need.”
In addition to the team’s batting average dropping from .409 after the first 13 games of the season to .362 following the Oxnard game, the defense also struggled down the stretch. The Lady Dons committed 21 errors in their last 10 games. Through the first 14 games of the season, Cerritos made 17 errors.
“We were a great hitting team coming into the last Mayfair game and the La Mirada week,” Medina said. “We had so many errors that we had to focus more on the infield and we didn’t focus on the hitting.”

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