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Youth served as Cerritos’ Mayfield delivers walk-off sacrifice fly


By Loren Kopff

It was senior day for the seven upperclassmen of the Cerritos High softball team, albeit six days late, when the Lady Dons hosted California in the first round of a California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division III game last Thursday. But it was the younger girls who provided most of the damage as the Lady Dons rallied for a 2-1 walk-off victory.

Freshman courtesy runner Jennifer Morinishi scored the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly from sophomore shortstop Lailoni Mayfield. The inning began when sophomore catcher Celeste Borza reached on an error and was replaced by Morninishi, who was then moved to second on a sacrifice from sophomore second baseman Destiny Lucero.

Two pitches later, senior second baseman Amanda Lejano singled up the middle that just nipped the glove of California shortstop Marina Tamayo. After Lejano stole second, Mayfield sent a 3-0 pitch to right field and the throw home was just late as Morinishi slid behind catcher Lorren Sharp and reached out to touch home plate.

“Even though we have a lot of seniors on this team, the underclassmen are really sort of the rock behind the team,” said Cerritos head coach Mike Freeman. “They’re a different breed of kids. The underclassmen are really hard kids and they’re a little hungry.”

Senior pitcher Jennifer Iseri was keeping the Condors at bay through the first three innings, not allowing a hit and striking out three while walking a pair. With one out in the top of the fourth, Jaclyn Macias singled to center for the lone hit California would get. Iseri then hit Tatiana Tabizon and walked Marissa Montesdeoca to load the bases.

After a fielder’s choice forced Macias at home for the second out, some miscommunication on a routine pop-up resulted in an error, allowing Tabizon to score the game’s first run. After that, Iseri, bound for the University of Hawai’i, retired 10 straight hitters.

The Suburban League champions had a few chances to score earlier in the game but finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Mayfield singled to right, went to second on a sacrifice from senior center fielder Megan Darling, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a base hit from freshman first baseman Kiarra Pope. The Lady Dons were held to five hits from five different players.

“[California pitcher Justice Sharp] kept the ball down,” Freeman said. “This whole year, she kept it down better than any pitcher we’ve seen. And we hit the ball up very well because I teach hitting the ball up.

“I knew they would figure it out,” Freeman later added about his girls. “The seniors…they always figure it out. [Sharp] was throwing a real good game, so I just knew we had to stick with our plan.”

Cerritos (20-7) followed that win with a more convincing 6-0 triumph over St. Paul this past Tuesday. It marked the first time since 2004 that the Lady Dons had won two playoff games in the same season. Cerritos also won its 20th game for the second straight campaign after going the previous 13 seasons without reaching the 20-win plateau.

Iseri struck out six, yielded four hits and hit a solo home run against St. Paul. The Lady Dons, ranked ninth in the division, visited top ranked Grand Terrace on May 28 and a win will put the team into the semifinals for the first time since 2000. Cerritos would host Gahr in the semifinals if the Gladiators defeat Laguna Hills in the quarterfinals.