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CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION DIVISION 2 SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS : Cerritos put away early by Cypress, bounced out in first round for second straight season

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

The youth of the Cerritos High softball team got a rude awakening in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 softball playoffs. The 605 League co-champions hosted Cypress High, but it was anything but a home-field advantage as the Centurions pounded the Lady Dons 12-1 last Thursday.

Cypress batted 11 in the top of the first inning, scoring half a dozen runs, five with two outs, and getting just as many hits off freshman pitcher Erin Gibbs. After a perfect top of the second inning, the Centurions made sure Cerritos (13-13 overall) wouldn’t have a chance to come back by scoring six more runs in the top of the third inning on six more hits.

“I think that has a lot to do with us going into this game knowing it was going to be a tough battle,” said Cerritos head coach Kim Ensey. “We know the type of team we can be, and we knew that we could score runs. We just didn’t produce the way that we would have liked to, but the girls have come back from behind before. They just didn’t want to give up.”

The Lady Dons, though, didn’t go down without a fight. In the bottom of the first inning, senior centerfielder Essence Gibbs reached on an error. Following the first out, freshman catcher Kaitlin Caneda reached on a fielder’s choice and Essence Gibbs was safe at second on another error. But two more strikeouts ended that threat. After that, Cerritos wouldn’t get another baserunner until the bottom of the fifth inning.

“They knew their job was to get on base, and they’ve been doing that successfully all season,” Ensey said of Essence Gibbs and Caneda. “They’ve been consistent at the plate for us; probably our two most consistent players, and they play with an attitude of never give up.”

Just when Maddy Wilson was throwing a no-hitter, the bottom of the Cerritos order had other plans in mind. With one out, sophomore first baseman Samiya Jones smacked a double to the right field gap and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Maddie Morante. Two pitches later, freshman designated player Makayla Sur doubled to left field to bring home Morante. That would be the extent of the Cerritos offense which was held to its second lowest hit output of the season.

“I think as a team we learned that every season is so different, and we need to utilize our pieces to the best of our ability,” Ensey said. “I think I learned just to trust what we have and go into it with an open mind and know that we’re young and know that we’re looking towards a really bright future and to not get frustrated. I think the girls learned to never give up and understand that each game is different.”

The game was the last one for Essence Gibbs and senior second baseman Niki Ibarra. Against Cypress, Cerritos started four freshmen, three sophomores, two seniors and one junior and if there was one good thing about the game and season, it’s that the young players got a lot of experience, which will help them on their quest for another league title in 2020.

“We’re going to still play the most competitive schedule we possibly can just so we can get the experience,” Ensey said. “The freshmen and some sophomores got a ton of playing time; a ton of experience of game in [the playoffs] under their belt against a very good team.”