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605 LEAGUE SOFTBALL – Younger Gibbs sister flirts with perfect game while offense roughs up Whitney


By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


It was senior day for the Cerritos High softball team against Whitney High this past Wednesday, but it was a freshman who was also in the spotlight. Freshman Erin Gibbs faced 16 batters in a five-inning game and the Lady Dons all but clinched at least a share of the 605 League title in an 18-0 win.

It was the second time this season that a league opponent failed to get a hit against Cerritos. The other time came against Oxford Academy on Apr. 5 in a 14-0 whitewash. But for Cerritos head coach Kim Ensey, who is in her third season at the helm, all she does is win league championships. Her first two seasons at Cerritos resulted in Suburban League titles, marking the first time since 1998-2000 that the program has won at least three straight league championships. Since 1998, the Dons have taken first place nine times.

“It doesn’t [get old],” Ensey said. “Every year that’s your goal. Your goal is to compete and get ready in preseason, win league and make it to CIF and then make it as far as you can. We always split our season into three and we’ve been successful in the first two. You wouldn’t think so maybe by our preseason record. But we definitely were able to prepare for league and get what we needed to do done and then when it came to league, you’re ready to go.”

With one out in the top of the first inning, Whitney senior pitcher Taylor Genera reached on an error. After that, Gibbs threw 58 pitches, struck out five batters, got seven batters to ground out, one to pop up and another to line out. The other story of the game was the continued hitting of a team that said goodbye to two seniors and had one junior in the starting lineup.

The Lady Dons roughed up Genera and junior Susana Toscano to the tune of 21 hits, the eighth time in nine league games they have had at least 10 hits. Cerritos scored twice in the bottom of the first inning and put the game on ice in the next inning with 10 runs. Senior center fielder Essence Gibbs had a two-run single and senior second baseman Niki Ibarra knocked in a pair of runs in the frame with a triple.

“It’s always a challenge when you have a really young team,” Ensey said. “It’s figuring out who we are as a team and I didn’t make it easy in our [non-league] scheduling. So, playing some of the best teams in Southern California in Division 1, 2, 3…just knowing that we needed to have as many competitive games as possible and take our lumps in the beginning to make sure that we kind of ironed out all of the details. We never got down and we pushed through all our battles and we’re ready to go.”

Cerritos, which went 18-6 last season and returned nine players this season, moved two games over .500 for the third time this season. It has never been three games over the even line and there are three games remaining in the regular season, a doubleheader at Downey High on Saturday and a road game at Oxford Academy on Tuesday. As the Lady Dons prepare for a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 first round home game, their record is not misleading according to Ensey.

“I don’t think it’s misleading,” Ensey said; “I think that we are a [12-10] team; we were a [12-10] team. I think that we’re playing good softball right now and we’re doing a lot of things right. It’s just a matter of are we prepared for the competition that we’re going to be facing? That’s really the only question that we all have. Teams are going to see us as a [league champion] but they know it’s a new league. They know what we’ve done in the past in the Suburban League against really good teams and they know what we can do. I think it’s really exciting going into the playoffs.”

Freshman right fielder Kaitlin Caneda went three for four with three runs scored and two runs batted in while sophomore designated player Lauren Lejano went three for three and drove in three runs. Sophomore first baseman Samiya Jones and freshman shortstop Jadyn Nielsen also had three hits as Cerritos has now outscored its league foes 130-17.

“I think our offense has been pretty solid,” Ensey said. “We have such a good combination of speed and power that we utilize both sides of the game. But I think right now, Kaitlin Caneda is just utilizing all her tools. She’s a true five-tool athlete and she’s getting it done for us in the three-hole. And then Elise Gibbs has just been solid, making really hard contact all league and even before. She’s had a great offensive season.”

Meanwhile, Whitney concluded its regular season at 13-8 overall and 6-4 in league action as it will return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. But head coach Luis Lavayen, who is in his 14thseason, is quick to point out that if it wasn’t for one player, the Lady Wildcats may not be where they are.

“Besides Taylor, the girls have improved a lot,” Lavayen said. “I really had high hopes for them, and they came through. Right now, I just told them, without Taylor we’re not this team. They need to really improve. I hope we do well, but you never know. CIF is a little different.”

The 13-6 record is the best the program has had since 2012 and Lavayen will be heading to the postseason for the sixth time and the 15thtime in school history. However, Whitney, which is second in the Division 7 poll, has reached at least the second round six times, the last coming in 2012. Also, this is the ninth time since 1998 that the program has reached double digits in victories.

“We need to be consistent in our hitting,” Lavayen said. “We’re not consistent [and] the errors…one minute you’re catching the ball and the next you’re dropping the ball. I’ve told them over and over that they have to be consistent in everything they do. They just can’t be a one-time thing.”