By Andrew Wheeler
Citrus College Sports Information Coordinator
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Whether they'll admit it or not, Southern California #1, Cypress College (46-0), headed into this weekend's California Community Co6llege Athletic Association State Softball Championships with a lot of pressure on them, being the only undefeated team left in the Sta6te. The Chargers didn't play like it in their opening contest however, as they racked up 13 hits, and stole five bases in an 8-0 five-inning mercy rule win over Northern California #2 San Joaquin Delta College.
Cypress wasted no time in putting runs on the board. The Chargers picked up a pair in the bottom of the first, the first coming on a successful double-steal that saw freshman Sydney McCollum swipe home. Moments later sophomore Nicole Wise would chip in with a RBI single through the left side that plated sophomore Jenny Vasquez to make it 2-0.
"We came in knowing we we're going to stick to our game plan, and do what it is, that we've been doing all year long. We just want to run and go," said Cypress College Head Coach Brad Pickler. "Normally we're a little more patient at the plate, but we saw that we were getting first pitch strikes, and so we told them to go after it. She [San Joaquin Delta College pitcher Peyton Rose] is a good pitcher, but we were just hot tonight.''
Wise would flex more than a bat, two innings later when she throughout consecutive base runners at second base. With one out, the Mustangs were aggressive on the base paths on back-to-back hits by sophomores Lauren Garoutte and Kaylee Buhrkuhl. In both instances though, Wise tracked down the hits deep in the corner in left field and hosed the runners trying to run singles into doubles preventing a potentially big Mustang inning.
"Nicole has been doing that all year long. She's made diving catch, after diving catch, after diving catch all season," Pickler said. "She's been sick all week long, and before the game she came up to me and said, 'I'm ready to go coach', and thankfully she was."
The Chargers kept their foot on the gas into the third inning when sophomore Melanie Okazaki led the inning off with a double to center field. McCollum followed that up with an RBI double to left-center, and after a pair of strikeouts, Cypress used another double-steal that saw McCollum take home again to put the Chargers in front 4-0.
In the fifth, Cypress finished things off, getting a monster two-run shot by sophomore Jenny Vasquez to start the inning. Three at bats later, sophomore Emma Walker hit a double down the left-field line to make it 7-0. Just a few pitches after that, freshman Destiny Vasquez, the California Community College Fastpitch Coaches Association State Pitcher of the Year, helped her own cause with the game ending RBI single to center field.
"I don't think it matters that we got a mercy rule win tonight, but hopefully it will pump up our girls tomorrow night when we take on Mt. SAC," Pickler said. "I don't care if we win by one, or we win by eight, the only thing that matters is that we got the win."
The Chargers had six players with at least three hits on the evening. McCollum finished 2-for-3 with a pair of scores, an RBI and three stolen bases, while Jenny Vasquez was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Destiny Vasquez (27-0) got the complete game shutout. Vasquez surrendered five total hits, but didn't give up a walk and struck out one Mustang on the night.
With the win, Cypress will take on Mt. San Antonio College at 3:00 PM tomorrow with a berth in the State Championship game on the line. San Joaquin Delta moves into the elimination contest against College of San Mateo at approximately 5:30 PM.