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605 LEAGUE SOFTBALL – Gibbs near perfect while Cerritos offense blasts John Glenn

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

When Cerritos High paid a visit to John Glenn High last Friday evening, senior pitcher Erin Gibbs said she wasn’t thinking about a no-hitter or a perfect game. All she was thinking about was getting through each inning and ending the game early.

In what she called her best throwing game of the season, Gibbs carried out what she wanted to do, throwing a perfect game through the first four innings as the Dons crushed the up and coming Eagles 15-0. It was the second time in three days that Cerritos had scored 15 runs against a 605 League opponent.

“I would say that the energy we had and the support I have from my teammates really helped me out,” said Gibbs. “I knew I just had to go out there and hit my spots and that everything would take care of itself.”

“It was a good performance,” said Cerritos head coach Todd Denhart. “Obviously, she’s not where she was a year ago. But it was better [than other games this season]. She was hitting her spots, moving the ball in and out, up and down. And I don’t want to take anything away from [Glenn]. That’s a good team; they’re on the rise.”

Gibbs threw six pitches in the bottom of the first inning, 10 in the second, eight in the third and 14 in the fourth. Of the first 12 batters she faced, she was ahead in the count seven times, including a 0-2 count five times, all of which ended in a strikeout. Gibbs struck out at least two batters in the final four innings and ended the game with 11 strikeouts out of the 17 batters she faced.

“I just felt like I didn’t really have the performance I wanted on Wednesday,” said Gibbs. “Just coming back and knowing what I needed to do…I had a really good bullpen [session] before the game. So, knowing that, I just had to work with my catcher and hit my spots.”

“Just pounding the strike zone more than she has previously,” said Denhart of the first three innings. “We talk about it; not working harder than you have to. She was throwing balls in the strike zone, and she was getting swings and misses.”

Gibbs did not reach a two-ball count until she had a 2-2 count on junior shortstop Beatriz Galvez with one out in the top of the fourth, then got her to foul off two pitches before striking her out. In the next inning, he had two strikes on sophomore catcher Julia Cole, who then laced a double to the right field gap to end the perfect game. Cole was the only Glenn player to hit the ball hard as she sharply lined out to sophomore right fielder Presley Hendrix to lead off the second.

“It was just a missed rise ball that didn’t get high enough,” said Gibbs. “My rise ball had been working all game, so it was just one missed spot and I had to just come back better the next time.”

“The girl had a good at-bat,” said Denhart. “She takes a decent pitch and puts the bat on it. She hit the ball the last time up, too. That’s baseball, that’s softball.”

After two straight strikeouts on a total of eight pitches, Gibbs had her toughest challenge of the game, throwing 11 pitches to sophomore third baseman Aileen Lopez before walking her on the 12th pitch. But she ended the game with a four-pitch strikeout to sophomore first baseman Anais Perez. Gibbs threw 66 pitches in the game and improved her season record to 7-1. She now has a pair of one-hit games and a trio of two-hit games this season.

Offensively, Cerritos only needed the two runs it scored in the first inning to back Gibbs. With one out, Glenn freshman pitcher Carissa Galvan walked junior center fielder Camille Lara before senior second baseman Katelyn Caneda launched her first home run of the season. Galvan settled down in the next inning before the Dons sent 12 batters to the plate in the third inning to turn the contest into a rout.

Cerritos had five hits in the inning, including the first home run of the season from senior shortstop Jadyn Nielsen. She would later add a two-run single to cap off the seven-run frame. But the Eagles didn’t help themselves in the inning as they committed three errors leading to five unearned runs.

“Unfortunately, when this team gets behind early, there’s no fighting,” said Glenn head coach Larry Leal. “That’s one of the problems with this team. [Cerritos] hit the ball over the fence and that was it.”

The Dons continued to hit Galvan hard in the fourth inning, as a two-out single from Hendrix loaded the bases for junior left fielder Catherine Quibrantar, whose two-run single plated sophomore third baseman Toafaoalii Pua and freshman catcher Alianna Calderon. Galvan then walked Nielsen to load the bases before Lara mare it 13-0 with a single to the right field gap.

Galvan is getting a lot of time in the circle in her first year of high school but is now 2-7 and some would wonder why Galvan was still in the game, especially after yielding seven runs in the third. But Leal said she was going to go the distance no matter what, unless she got injured.

“We were calling her pitches and she has a really, really good rise ball, but it wasn’t working,” said Leal. “She just wasn’t hitting her spots today.”

After a 16-0 home win against Oxford Academy this past Tuesday, the Dons improved to 10-1 overall and 6-0 in the 605 League. Cerritos, which had previously cancelled non-league games against Gahr High and Warren High, was to have visited La Mirada High on Apr. 7. But that game was also cancelled, leaving the team with five remaining in the regular season.

The first of those is today against Whitney High, followed by a meeting at Pioneer High on Tuesday and the rematch with Glenn on Thursday, the final regular season home game for six seniors. However, it took the Dons less than a month (Feb. 16-Mar. 4) to play their first five games and two weeks (Mar. 18-Apr. 1) to play their first five league games.

“We’ve had some stuff go on here that is beyond our control,” said Denhart. “I think the team as a group has done a good job of adapting. They’ve been putting the work in at practice and hopefully we don’t hit any more speed bumps the rest of the year.

“I hope we haven’t peaked yet,” Denhart later added. “I’d like to peak a little bit later in the year, kind of like we did last year. But I don’t know. Maybe we have; we’ll find out. Hopefully, we don’t peak, then take a bow. Maybe we peak and level off, hopefully. We’re playing okay right now.”

It’s a different story for Glenn, which is trying to build off last season’s 10-6 campaign and the program’s first trip to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs for the first time since 1990. The Eagles, who were shutout by arch-rival Artesia High 13-0 this past Tuesday, dropped to 11-10 overall and 2-3 in league. When the team is on, it is on as Glenn began the season with 68 runs scored in the first four wins. But the Eagles went through a three-game losing streak in which they allowed 47 runs and was shocked by Pioneer 12-11 in walk-off fashion on Mar. 18, begging the question which Glenn team is going to show up on gameday?

“That’s what we ask them after every game,” said Leal. “Right before they’re warming up, we ask them, ‘who’s going to play today? Who’s ready to play?’ They all say they are, but obviously they didn’t today.”

Glenn hosts Pioneer today and Oxford Academy on Tuesday as it hopes to stay in the hunt for second place.

“That’s what we’re looking for,” said Leal. “We were looking forward to this one, at least in competing, but it didn’t work out. We’re really looking forward to the Pioneer rematch, but we try to get ready for every game.”