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SUBURBAN LEAGUE SOFTBALL: Lucero’s home run gives Cerritos rare season-series sweep over Mayfair

By Loren Kopff

Destiny Lucero picked the right time to hit her first home run of her brief high school career. The sophomore third baseman for the Cerritos High softball team took a 1-1 pitch from Mayfair’s Makenna Stram in the bottom of the seventh inning and deposited it over the centerfield fence to give the host Lady Dons a 3-2 victory last Friday.

The win gave Cerritos its first season-series sweep over Mayfair since 2006. Before that, Cerritos had swept the Monsoons three other times (1999, 2000 and 2001). This was also the 10th time since 1999 that a Cerritos-Mayfair game has been decided by one run.

“I was expecting to get on base so we could score,” Lucero said. “But I ended up getting that pitch and driving it in.”

Lucero, who had only four hits last season, wouldn’t have been considered a threat to hit the long ball, considering that she was batting in the seventh spot. She had entered the game with three hits this season through the first eight games. But none of that mattered to anyone, especially senior pitcher Jennifer Iseri.

“All I have to say about that is Destiny is such a hard worker,” Iseri said. “From day one, since I’ve known her when she was little, she has always been a hard worker and in practice, she shows up every day giving everything she has. In fact recently, she’s been hitting very well during batting practice and she’s been performing really well. So she’s worked her way up into getting a starting spot. That was well deserved.”

After watching Mayfair tie the game with two runs in the top of the sixth, Stram needed 12 pitches to get through the bottom half of the frame, facing three batters. After Iseri got a huge double play with none out in the top of the seventh, Stram got senior second baseman Amanda Lejano to groundout on the ninth pitch of the at-bat before facing Lucero.

Stram walked sophomore first baseman Lailoni Mayfield with one out in the bottom of the first and after Iseri singled to right field, senior catcher Heather Cameron sent a fly ball to right field, deep enough to score Mayfield. Three innings later, Cameron dropped a ball into shallow left, stole second and came home on a grounder from Lejano.

With a 2-0 lead and Iseri throwing a no-hitter through the first five innings, yielding only a pair of walks and hitting a batter, the Lady Dons seemed to be in control. But this game was one of adjustments that both teams made after Cerritos crushed Mayfair 10-0 just 48 hours earlier.

“Defensively, I thought we did better communicating through plays and when base runners got on, we worked through it together which gave our pitcher more confidence,” said Mayfair head coach Erin Brown. “That’s a huge adjustment. That takes us leaps and bounds from Wednesday.”

After giving up 10 of the 13 hits that Cerritos got in the first meeting, Stram allowed five hits last Friday, one each in the first, second, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. She also walked one and struck out a pair and did not get a runner to second except for the three that scored.

“That’s the Makenna we’re used to seeing,” Brown said. “A lot of things went wrong in Wednesday’s game. I don’t think it was just Makenna’s confidence. Our defense did things that we haven’t seen in the preseason. Our bats went quiet which we haven’t seen all preseason.”

As for Cerritos, one of the biggest adjustments between the two games came from Iseri. In the first meeting, she got ahead in the count on seven of the 25 batters she faced. Last Friday, the University of Hawai’i signee was ahead in the count 14 times.

“Pitching-wise, I think I came out with a better mentality,” Iseri said. “I started attacking the zone more in the beginning. I was more confident in my pitches. I worked a little bit on my spin and I think that was a big difference for me-my confidence.”

It didn’t come easy for Iseri, though. On the second pitch of the game, Mayfair’s Sarah Parten, who saw a combined 12 pitches from Iseri in the two games and went one for seven, hit a rocket to Lucero that was snagged. Then in the sixth inning and with the bases loaded, Rachel Barajas was robbed of a base hit that was caught in shallow left by senior Leeann Tran. But Iseri would walk pinch hitter Tena Spoolstra and Diana Villagran which brought in pinch runner Sarah Clausen and Nia Rodman respectively to tie the game.

“I thought Sarah had been seeing her well, last game and this game,” Brown said. “I think we were just getting those uncontrollables that happen. That line shot down to third on the [second] pitch…those things are going to happen.”

“I think I was trying to do a little bit too much,” Iseri said. “A lot of times I need to step back and take a deep breath. A lot of times I get caught up in the moment and I just have to realize that I have to trust my defense. The defense is one of our strong points.”

After facing La Mirada this past Tuesday and again on Apr. 2, the Lady Dons (5-5 overall, 3-0 in the Suburban League) will visit Cypress on Tuesday before facing El Rancho on Thursday in a Whittier Christian Tournament contest. Mayfair stayed close to Cerritos in the league standings by edging Norwalk 2-1 this past Tuesday. League action resumes on Apr. 15.

“Mayfair is probably one of our toughest [opponents] and we were close,” Lucero said. “I was just happy that we won.”

“A number of things can happen throughout this league which we have seen for years,” Brown said. “That’s the only thing we talked about in our after game talk.”

Contact Loren: [email protected]