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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Gibbs sisters, Morinishi take care of out of state team as Cerritos softball remains hot

The Cerritos High and West Albany (OR) High softball teams enjoy one last photo opportunity following their softball game this past Wednesday, won by Cerritos 3-1.


By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


It’s somewhat rare for softball teams to play teams from out of state in a single, non-tournament game. But Cerritos High found itself playing Oregon-based West Albany High this past Wednesday thanks to the connection that Cerritos head coach Kim Ensey has.

According to Ensey, West Albany head coach Ryan Borde has a sister who lives in Long Beach and contacted Kim two years ago about possibly putting together a game in the future. They stayed in contact through social media and were able to schedule a game this season when the Bulldogs were on their spring break. West Albany arrived in Southern California on Sunday and played JSerra High this past Monday and Laguna Hills High this past Tuesday.

Backed by hitting of junior left fielder Elise Gibbs and sophomore center fielder Essence Gibbs, Cerritos got past West Albany 3-1, hours before the Bulldogs would fly back home. The Lady Dons improved to 10-4, which includes a 3-0 mark in Suburban League play, and have won six straight games.

“Coming into league, we started playing really well,” Ensey said. “We had a rough game against Norwalk, but other than that, our bats have been coming alive since the Torrance Tournament. I’ve been happy with how the girls have been playing.”

After stranding two runners in each of the first two innings, the Lady Dons broke through in the bottom of the third, which started with junior shortstop Niki Ibarra singling to center and scoring on a double from Elise Gibbs. Two innings later, Cerritos went up 2-0 when senior pitcher Jennifer Morinishi doubled to left field and was replaced by sophomore courtesy runner Asharie Gibbs, who was recently called up from the junior varsity squad. After a groundout from senior first baseman Kiara Crockett-Pope, Elise Gibbs drove in Asharie Gibbs with a single to left.

“Elise has absolutely been on fire at the plate,” Ensey said. “She’s got Kiara hitting in front of her, who’s been intentionally walked a few times and she’s batting 1.000 after Kiara has been intentionally walked. She’s kind of clutch in those situations. She keeps her composure really well, which helps. And then Essence has been putting the ball in play, making adjustments at the plate and she has been a pretty clutch hitter for us.”

The fifth inning run would prove to be the difference as Morinishi was in control early on. She struck out the first four batters of the game and would leave two runners at third base in the second and third innings. Through the first five innings, she gave up four hits, but ran into trouble in the top of the sixth.

With one out, Mahayla Gamble singled to the right field gap and was replaced with courtesy runner Sophia Lynn. McKenzie Kosmicki would then reach on an error and Cassie Cosler’s base hit loaded the bases. Two pitches later, a single to center from April Kingry plated Lynn.

In the next inning the Lady Dons got an insurance run when Essence Gibbs drove in courtesy runner Alexa Diaz with a single. That was crucial because the Bulldogs loaded the bases in the top of the seventh before Morinishi got Cosler to pop-up to Crockett-Pope to end the game. Morinishi, who has pitched in 11 straight games and all but four innings this season, gave up seven hits and struck out seven.

“I was hoping to rest Jenny a little bit at some point in these four games,” Ensey said. “But we didn’t get that opportunity; at least she has a week and a half to go. It’s been a good little winning streak that we have going into a couple of hard games we have coming up after the break.”

The Lady Dons will gladly enjoy some time off before returning to action on Apr. 10 when they host Mayfair High.

“I am happy with 10-4,” Ensey said. “We frontloaded our schedule pretty good with some pretty competitive teams and I think that has really prepared us for our league, which was the plan.”

In other softball action, the only games that will take place next week involve Gahr High, which hasn’t played since Mar. 20. The Lady Gladiators (7-3) will host South Torrance High on Tuesday before facing Valencia High on Wednesday in the first game of the Michelle Carew Classic.


Four area teams will continue action in the St. Paul Tournament while two others are in separate tournaments. But before that, some teams played league games on Mar. 29. Artesia High (1-10 overall, 0-3 in the Suburban League) hosted Cerritos High (9-3, 1-1), Norwalk High (5-3, 1-0) entertained Mayfair and Valley Christian High (5-5, 0-2 in the Olympic League) visited Heritage Christian High.

In the AAA Division of the St. Paul Tournament, Cerritos will face San Dimas High on Saturday and Crean Lutheran High on Monday while in the AA Division, Artesia will play St. Monica High on Saturday and Covina High on Monday, Norwalk will see Ontario Christian High on Saturday and host St. Bernard on Monday and V.C. will travel to Garfield High on Saturday and host St. Monica on Monday. The St. Paul Tournament will semi-final and consolation games on Tuesday with the championship games and more consolation games on Wednesday.

Gahr (5-6) will host Mira Costa High on Saturday and entertain Oaks Christian High in a doubleheader on Thursday while John Glenn High (8-2 overall, 1-0 in the Suburban League) hosted Montebello High in a doubleheader on Mar. 29 and will face Pleasant Grove (UT) High on Wednesday and Davis High out of Kaysville, UT on Thursday in the Desert Cities Classic.

In Academy League action, Whitney High (3-4, 0-1) visited Calvary Chapel Downey High on Mar. 29 and will not play again until Apr. 10 when the Wildcats host St. Margaret’s High.