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WOODBRIDGE TOURNAMENT Cerritos doesn’t let fourth lead slip away, holds on to defeat Temescal Canyon

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

IRVINE-Cerritos High had a pair of one-run leads and a two-run advantage against Temescal Canyon High in a silver bracket game in the Woodbridge Tournament game this past Monday night but failed to hold those leads. Then the Lady Dons had a fourth lead against the Titans and made sure not to give it up.

Sophomore right fielder Kristina Mendez came home on a scoring error in the top of the ninth inning and junior pitcher Jennifer Morinishi needed eight pitches to get through the bottom of the ninth as Cerritos held on for a 5-4 victory. Coupled with an 8-0 win against Artesia High this past Tuesday, the Lady Dons improved to 11-2 overall.

Cerritos took a 1-0 lead in the second when sophomore left fielder Elise Gibbs singled, stole second and scored on a ground rule double from senior third baseman Destiny Lucero. But the Titans tied the game in the bottom of the third on a ground rule double from Briana Ramirez.

The score was still tied until Gibbs cracked a two-run home run to center in the top of the sixth with junior first baseman Kiarra Crockett-Pope coming in ahead of her. It was the third home run this season for Gibbs. Temescal Canyon came back to tie the game in its half of the frame as Paris Nguyen singled and with one out, came home on a double from Kimberly Hofmeister. Kayla Tadewosian would then plate Hofmeister with a base hit.

In the international tiebreaker format, junior courtesy runner Sydney Arevalo began the eighth inning on second and on the first pitch thrown from Bibi Villeda, Crockett-Pope singled down the left field line to put Cerritos up 4-3. But staying with a common thread, Cerritos lost that lead when Jada Cody came home after Nguyen singled to left field and Cody crossed home plate on an error on the same play.

“It’s pretty frustrating but we have faith in each other to battle through those international tiebreakers,” Crockett-Pope said. “I feel like we’ll get the job done when it’s time.”

In the next inning and with Mendez starting on third instead of second, freshman centerfielder Essence Gibbs hit a line drive to Villeda, whose attempt to double up Mendez went into foul territory. In the bottom half of the ninth and Tadewosian standing on third, Morinishi got Cayla Tulley to foul out, Megan Leivas to ground out and struck out Taylor Eden.

Cerritos pounded out a dozen hits as Elise Gibbs and Morinishi each had three hits. Cerritos began the tournament with a 7-2 loss to Edison High followed by an 8-5 win against Northwood High last Saturday. In the second game, senior shortstop Lailoni Mayfield made her debut in the circle and pitched four innings. Morinishi came in to work the next two innings for the save. Elise Gibbs went four for four and drove in a pair of runs while sophomore Nikki Ibarra went three for three and scored twice.

“I feel we went into the first game [of the tournament] with high intensity,” Crockett-Pope said. “But our biggest problem is scoring runs at the beginning and not accumulating at the end. So, that’s what we mainly get beat on.”

The Lady Dons visited La Mirada High on Apr. 6 in a battle of the two remaining undefeated teams in the Suburban League. The team will then wrap up the Woodbridge Tournament with a pair of games on Saturday, the first one against Fountain Valley High, before visiting John Glenn High on Tuesday and Norwalk High on Thursday. With 11 wins already, the Lady Dons have matched their win total of last season.

“We take the game more serious this year, and we only lost one person,” Crockett-Pope said. “This year it’s just a whole new intensity and we’re playing together. It’s good to have everyone healthy so we could all be as one.”