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Cerritos salvages season split with Mayfair with five-run sixth inning

By Loren Kopff

Over the past seven seasons, Mayfair has owned Cerritos on the softball field, winning 13 of the past 15 meetings including the one played on Apr. 9. That’s a game that Cerritos first-year head coach Mike Freeman would like to erase from the books.
The Lady Dons had a 7-3 lead going to the bottom of the fifth, only to see the Monsoons tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, then win it in the eighth. Freeman said it was one of the worst moments in his 15 years of coaching.
So, Cerritos came back last Friday and figured out how to get Mayfair freshman pitcher Makenna Stram rattled. Cerritos sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth and turned a tie game into a 7-2 victory. Cerritos went to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in the Suburban League as the two combatants stayed on the heels of first place La Mirada.
“I explained to the girls yesterday we had to have this game today,” Freeman said. “When you start wishing for another team to sweep a team, that’s kind of tough, and La Mirada is a good team. They just took it upon themselves to know what it meant.”
The hosts took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Stram walked junior pitcher Jennifer Iseri and yielded an infield knock to freshman shortstop Lailoni Mayfield. Two outs later and with the runners having moved up a base, junior first baseman Madison Lee brought in both with a single to the right field gap.
But for the next four innings, the two pitchers would be on their game, which was a complete contrast from the first meeting just 48 hours earlier. In that contest, Iseri threw over 180 pitches. But last Friday, Iseri had thrown 62 pitches through the first five innings, allowing only one hit, striking out half a dozen and not letting a Mayfair runner get past second.
“I mixed it up a little; I didn’t call last game,” Freeman said. “I kept my balance a little bit more. Jennifer, sometimes, gets so amped up that she wants to strike out everybody. This is one of the first games I’ve seen all year where she actually didn’t throw through her spots. That was the difference in Jennifer.”
Not to be outdone was Stram and after giving up the two runs in the opening frame, she retired 13 of the next 16 batters, walking only junior designated player Kaitlyn Bales in the first, junior catcher Heather Cameron in the third and junior left fielder Megan Darling in the fifth.
Mayfair finally got to Iseri with two outs in the top of the sixth. Diana Villagram reached on an infield hit and two pitches later, Sarah Parten homered over the right center fence. That was followed by Tyler Johnson reaching on an error. But Iseri struck out Jasmine Flowers to end further damage,
“We got our signs mixed up a little bit [on the home run] but that was the first time all year I really saw my kids play with passion and really attack the ball,” Freeman said.
But the Cerritos offense finally found its way to string together a few hits in the bottom half of the frame. With Cameron reaching on an error, Stram walked Lee and gave up a double to Bales. That was followed by a two-run double from junior right fielder Leeann Tran and a base hit from senior second baseman Lilianna Herrera. Iseri’s two-run double capped off the scoring and as Cerritos kept its league title hopes alive.
“Slow and outside is the killer,” Freeman chuckled in response to his players having problems with Stram. “Most girls can’t hit it because they don’t have the patience to sit back on that ball. It took us six innings to six innings to start sitting back on the ball and hit the ball the other way. Sometimes we try to do too much. We don’t just take what’s given to us.”
Cerritos faced Bellflower on Apr. 17 in a Whittier Christian Tournament game and will play San Dimas on Friday and West Covina on Saturday in pool play action of the event. The Lady Dons will have one more game that afternoon before taking more than a week off.