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Dipillo’s home run caps another La Mirada rally over Cerritos

SUBURBAN LEAGUE SOFTBALL

By Loren Kopff

The Cerritos softball team has seen this show before and is getting tired of the ending. It grabbed a comfortable lead against Suburban League nemesis La Mirada, again, but fell to the Matadores in extra innings, again.

This past Wednesday in the league opener for both teams, junior catcher Annie Dipillo sent a 1-1 pitch over the centerfield fence with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to give La Mirada a 5-4 victory. La Mirada had trailed Cerritos 4-1 after five innings but tied the game with three runs in the sixth inning. On the final regular season game of last season, La Mirada rallied from a 4-0 lead after four innings to edge the Lady Dons 5-4 in 10 innings.

La Mirada senior third baseman Lindsey Cole led off the top of the sixth with a base hit to center but was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice from sophomore pinch hitter Tiffany Centeno. Two batters later, junior designated player Jaslin Rivas was safe on an infield hit to bring in Centeno. That was followed by single to right from senior center fielder Christiana Viayra and a two-base double off of the left field fence from senior shortstop Mercedes Gasparovic.

Cerritos (3-6 overall, 0-1 in league) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when sophomore catcher Heather Cameron’s base hit to center brought home junior center fielder Jasmine Javier who was walked with two outs. The lead increased to 2-0 in the third when junior pitcher Stephanie Baro walked Cameron, who then stole her second base of the game and twice advanced on wild pitches.

Cole would put the Matadores on the board in the fourth on an unearned run but the Lady Dons answered in their half of the frame when sophomore pitcher Melanie Okazaki doubled to deep center and came home on an error. In the fifth inning, Baro walked senior shortstop Erin Clinton, who later scored on another La Mirada error.

Cerritos had numerous chances to score as Baro walked seven batters. In fact, the Lady Dons had runners in scoring position in the first five innings but went one for 12 with runners in scoring position.

“We just did whatever [Cerritos head] coach Bobby [Medina] told us to do,” Cameron said of being patient at the plate. “We knew that [Baro] wasn’t as accurate as the game was going on. So, we took our pitches and swung at the good ones.”

However, Baro would retire 15 of the final 16 batters she faced, walking Javier with one out in the ninth during that stretch. Meanwhile, Okazaki, making her second start of the season, was pitching well through the first three innings, constantly getting stellar defensive plays from Javier and sophomore third baseman Amanda Lejano. Okazaki scattered seven hits, five of which came in the final four innings, and struck out two.

“She did great,” Cameron said. “Not pitching for a while, she did great. I was really proud of her. Her presence was great on the mound. She was focused and she was determined to win and she wanted this.”

Cerritos sophomore designated player Kaitlyn Bales went two for three while Gasparovic and Cole each had a pair of hits for La Mirada. The teams will face each other today at La Mirada, a place where Cerritos has won just once since 1998.Cerritos will then host John Glenn on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s crushing because we know we’re a better team and we talked about it,” Cameron said of the loss. “We’re going to come back strong and we’re going to fight harder.”

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