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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Cerritos softball gets back to winning ways with complete team effort


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


NEWPORT BEACH-For a program coming off a 20-win season and a Suburban League championship, the last thing the Cerritos High softball team wanted to do was get off to a slow start. Having been blanked in their first two games of the season, the Lady Dons needed to get back on track.

After shutting out Dana Hills High 3-0 on Mar. 6, Cerritos made it two in a row with a 7-0 victory at Newport Harbor High two days later behind a complete team effort. The Lady Dons racked up 13 hits with every starter getting at least one hit.

“It’s something we’ve been working on,” said Cerritos head coach Kim Ensey. “We’ve been really consistent in the top five or six of our lineup all year. So, we’ve really been working hard at the bottom half of our lineup at producing runs. Between our small ball game and just simple base hits, the girls have really been producing at the bottom.”

Cerritos jumped all over the Sailors in the top of the first inning, scoring three runs on singles from sophomore center fielder Essence Gibbs, senior pitcher Jennifer Morinishi, freshman designated player Samiya Jones and senior first baseman Kiara Crockett-Pope. That was all the offense Morinishi needed. While the Lady Dons didn’t score again until the fifth, Morinishi was getting ahead in the count a lot while her defense was bailing her out of potential scoring chances by Newport Harbor.

“It definitely was something we needed to do,” Ensey said. “We needed that spark, starting with Essence having a great at-bat to lead off the game. That’s why she’s there.”

Morinishi was ahead in the count 16 times and had an 0-2 count eight times. With runners on first and second and none out in the bottom of the second inning, she got Maxine McNerney to ground out back to her before striking out the next two batters. In the next inning, she got Alexis Amaro to ground into a double play and in the fourth inning, again with two on and none out, she got Kendall Kelly to pop-up followed by a pair of groundouts. Morinishi struck out eight batters and walked three.

“Well, it’s definitely been tough, coming back from an injury,” Ensey said. “She’s getting a little stronger each inning, but there’s still a lot of pain there. We expect big things from her in her senior year; nothing less. She’s a little bulldog, like I said last year. She fights in everything. If it were up to her doctor, she would have stayed out a little longer. But she leads this team very well.”

In the top of the fifth inning, senior catcher Alyanna Hernandez singled and was replaced by sophomore courtesy runner Daisy Martinez, who stole second and scored on a base hit from junior shortstop Niki Ibarra. Also coming home on the play was Gibbs. In the next inning with one out, junior left fielder Elise Gibbs, freshman second baseman Lauren Lejano and Hernandez all singled.

Cerritos is in the Torrance National Tournament through Saturday and had a pair of games on Mar. 15, the first against Basic High out of Henderson, NV. The Lady Dons then begin their defense on what it hopes to be their last league crown when they visit John Glenn High on Tuesday and Norwalk High on Thursday.

“It’s a really great tournament; I’ve been a part of it for quite some time,” Ensey said. “It’s a really competitive tournament. I like that we get to play teams from outside of our state. I’m really excited for how we can do; the potential that we have. Last year we took third and this year I would hope that we can come around the same or higher.”

In other softball action, Artesia High fell to North Torrance High 6-3 this past Tuesday to drop to 2-2. The Lady Pioneers hoisted Paramount High on Mar. 15 and will face San Dimas High in the first game of the Santa Fe Tournament on Saturday. League play begins on Tuesday with a home game against Norwalk. Two days later, the Lady Pioneers will visit La Mirada High.

Gahr High began the season on a roll, winning its first three games by a combined score of 11-1. But then the Lady Gladiators lost three straight games before shutting out Capistrano Valley High 2-0 this past Wednesday in the third of four games in the Capistrano Valley Tournament. Gahr would face JSerra High on Mar. 15 and will visit La Habra High on Tuesday.

After winning two straight games in which it scored 38 runs, Glenn was swept by Sultana High 17-0 and 19-2 last Saturday. Then, the Lady Eagles were pounded by Valley Christian High 14-0 this past Tuesday in a four and a half-inning game. Glenn was held to only two hits, which were leadoff doubles from junior shortstop Dalia Morones and sophomore left fielder Anela Kramer. Glenn (2-4) has yet to play a seven-inning game and will host Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High today. After facing Cerritos, the Lady Eagles will host Bellflower High Thursday.

Norwalk, at 1-3, hasn’t played since Mar. 8 and will face Western Christian High and Sylmar High in the Santa Fe Tournament on Saturday.

In V.C.’s win over Glenn junior center fielder Katie Morewood went two for two and drove in three runs and sophomore shortstop Kate Van Kampen went two for four as the Lady Crusaders (2-2) scored five runs in the bottom of the first innings and six more in the third. V.C. visited Samueli Academy on Mar. 15 and will face Paramount and Bell Gardens High on Saturday in the Santa Fe Tournament. The Crusaders will also host Oxford Academy on Tuesday before visiting Calvary Chapel Downey on Thursday.

Whitney High has been blanked in three straight games and is winless on the season thus far. The Lady Wildcats hosted Saddleback Valley Christian High on Mar. 15 and will visit Samueli Academy on Tuesday.


Artesia dropped all five games of the Newport Elks Tournament, scoring nine runs in the Orange County Division while giving up at least 10 runs in four of those games. Then the Pioneers fell to Calvary Chapel Downey High 16-3 this past Tuesday. Artesia will host Whitney today before visiting Glenn on Wednesday to begin Suburban League action.

Gahr split a doubleheader with Harvard-Westlake last Saturday, losing the first game 6-3 before getting the second one 4-2 to improve to 4-3. The Gladiators will visit El Toro High on Saturday before hosting JSerra on Monday to wrap up play in the Frank Lerner Division of the Newport Elks Tournament. Gahr will also host St. John Bosco High on Wednesday.

Glenn knocked off Troy High 8-5 last Friday to finish competition in the Costa Mesa Division of the Newport Elks Tournament. The Eagles (5-2) visit Downey High today and Santa Fe High on Monday before opening Suburban League action at home against Mayfair High on Wednesday.

Norwalk lost a pair of tight games at Whittier last Saturday, 1-0 and 3-1 to even its record at 3-3. The Lancers are scheduled to host Valley Christian today in a St. Paul Tournament pool play game.

Valley Christian went 1-3 in the Orange County Division of the Newport Elks Tournament and was scheduled to play Westminster High last Saturday. The Crusaders (3-3) visited St. Anthony High on Mar. 15 and after facing Norwalk today, will open Olympic League play at home against Village Christian High Tuesday.