Warriors Edge Fullerton in Super Regional Opener

(Photos by Yvette Blacknell)
(Photos by Yvette Blacknell)

TORRANCE, Calif. – No. 4 El Camino College used some aggressive base running Friday afternoon to score a narrow 3-2 victory over No. 5 Fullerton in game one of the California Community College Athletic Association Softball SoCal Super Regionals at the ECC Softball Field.

The Warriors (37-6) recorded their 21st consecutive win thanks to some aggression on the base paths in the fourth inning. One frame after tying things up 1-1, Alena De La Torre drew a leadoff walk off Hornets (35-7) starter Jessica Lopez.

Mina Nakawake then stepped up and laid down a great bunt that creeped back toward the circle. The Hornets picked it up and tried to get Nakawake at first but the Warriors center fielder beat out the throw.

Meanwhile, De La Torre never stopped running and rounded second when the ball was originally fielded. First baseman Khloe Lilavois threw to third but De La Torre beat it out. At the same time, Nakawake bolted for second on the throw and forced an errant throw from third baseman Natalie Gonzalez that sailed into right-center field. Both runners would come in to score to give ECC the 3-1 lead.

The Warriors pitching staff made sure it held as Elizabeth Cortez and Jocelyn Hernandez combined to hold the Hornets to just two runs on the day. Cortez struggled early, allowing two walks and one single to load the bases with one out.

Hernandez came in to pitch in relief and almost got out of it unscathed, inducing a groundball to short. The Warriors got the out at second but Lalavois beat out the throw at first to avoid the double play and allow the run to score from third. Hernandez would then get a strikeout to end the frame.

After that, Cortez came back to pitch in the second and settled down, retiring nine of the last 10 batters she faced including eight in a row. Hernandez came back to the circle in the fifth and continued the streak, retiring the first four batters she faced.

But the Hornets solved Hernandez in the sixth, scoring a run on three singles with Sarah Rengifo's two-out RBI hit making it 3-2. But Hernandez got a pop-out to end the frame and then retired the side in order in the seventh to lock down the victory.

Hernandez picked up the win after going three and 2/3 innings and allowing the one run on three hits in the sixth. Cortez allowed a run on two hits in three and 1/3 innings of work with two strikeouts and two walks allowed.

Lopez took the loss for the Hornets despite pitching a complete-game. She struck out 10 batters but issued four walks to go along with the three hits. Only one of the three runs she gave up were earned.

The teams will tangle again Saturday at noon for game two. Fullerton will be the designated home team. A win for ECC would secure its second straight trip to the CCCAA State Championships while a Fullerton win would force a winner-take-all game three 30 minutes after the conclusion of game two.