The Hornets couldn’t best the undefeated Cypress College Chargers, their fiercest Orange Empire Conference rival, falling to 1 – 1 in conference in their 10 – 3 loss.

Hornets starting sophomore pitcher, Jessica Lopez, was pushed to her limits at the top of the first inning.

Lopez gave up three hits to Chargers batters, one walk and a wild pitch that gave Chargers sophomore first baseman a clear path to home plate to score the first Chargers run of the soon to be onslaught.

Lopez managed to end the inning with Chargers sophomore center fielder, Kim MacPherson striking out looking leaving the Chargers’ lead at 1 – 0.

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Jessica Lopez battling the Chargers offense Photo credit: Blake Ward

Neither team would score until the Chargers took advantage of free bases in the fourth inning.

Lopez managed to get the first two Chargers batters to fly out but gave up a hit to Chargers sophomore starting pitcher, Eliza Sandoval. Lopez walked sophomore second baseman, Jessie Gomez, gave freshman right fielder, Cameron Curiel, a single to center field. Lopez then walked freshman left fielder, Jordan Thompson, scoring Sandoval from third base extending the Chargers’ lead to 2 – 0.

Hornets Head Coach Speedy Mendoza pulled Lopez from the game replacing her with her with freshman, Haylee Enriquez, who originally was the designated offensive player.

Enriquez walked her first batter, Chargers sophomore shortstop, Lesley Bojorquez which brought Gomez in to score from third base increasing the lead to 3 – 0.

During the next at-bat, the Hornets defense missed an opportunity to end the inning. Chargers starting sophomore third baseman, Janea Brannen hit a ground ball to Hornets freshman shortstop, Danielle Ramirez, who threw the ball in an attempt to force out the advancing baserunner to third base as Thompson reached third base safely.

As a result of the fielder’s choice, Curiel was ale to score making the score 4 – 0.

The Hornets’ troubles didn’t end there as Charger freshman designated hitter, Makena Otoole whacked two-RBI single to center field scoring Bojorquez and Brannen lengthening their intimidating lead to 6 – 0.

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Haylee Enriquez battling back against the Chargers Photo credit: Holly Hulion

Rengifo got the final out when Chargers sophomore third baseman, Maddie Bagdanovich grounded out to her. Rengifo ran the ball to first base herself getting the out and stopping the Chargers’ fourth offensive stampede.

After two more innings of fruitless at-bats, the Hornets mustered a late-game offensive rally in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Sophomore third baseman, Khloe Lilavois led off the inning with a deep double in the left-center field gap that rolled all the way to the wall; putting her in scoring position. Ramirez and freshman left fielder, Miranda Rooney both walked to load the bases.

Lilavois scored from third off a wild pitch from Sandoval putting the Hornets on the board chipping away at the Chargers’ lead, 6 – 1. On the wild pitch, Ramirez managed to advance to third base.

Rengifo the batter at the time of the wild pitch managed to finish her at-bat with an RBI single to the right side of the infield. Huerta dove to stop the line drive but couldn’t throw out the speedy Rengifo at first base.

Freshman, Melanie Medina, pinch-hit for starting sophomore center fielder, Clarissa Hernandez, in the bottom of the sixth inning and knocked in the final Hornet run of the game with a deep single over the head of MacPherson in center field; cutting the Chargers’ lead in half 6 – 3.

To destroy any hopes of a late-game comeback victory for the Hornets, the Chargers managed to score four runs in the top of the seventh inning, crushing the Hornets 10 – 3.

The Hornets, despite two hits to center field, couldn’t amount a sizable response in the bottom of the seventh inning to combat the Chargers offensive dominance.

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Haylee Enriquez trying to rally the Hornets offense Photo credit: Blake Ward

Cypress College Head Coach Brad Pickler kept his team’s undefeated streak alive through the combination of capitalized scoring opportunities and strategic defensive plays.

“The Fullerton pitcher got a little wild in that one inning which helped us out,” stated Pickler. “We just had good at-bats; we weren’t striking out. Whenever you make the other team make plays instead of striking out, [good] things usually happen.”

Despite her incredible offensive performance with two doubles to deep center field and scoring off the wild pitch, Lilavois thought her approach at the plate could improve.

“We were starting to get on top of the pitcher and adjust to what she was throwing, but we should have adjusted sooner,” she insisted. “We battled at the plate, but just weren’t making adjustments sooner than we should have.”

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Celeste Borza trying to extend the Hornets rally Photo credit: Holly Hulion

Hornets Assistant Coach Jill Saiza concurred with Lilavois on the overview of their team’s offensive performance. In regards to Lopez’s shaky start in the top of the first inning, Saiza was dumbfounded about the unusually substandard pitching performance.

“I don’t know if she was in the game,” said Saiza. “She was kind of worried about herself. She just needs to trust her defense and play to her best abilities.”

After dropping this game to Cypress College, the Orange Empire Conference games will continue as the Hornets go to Santa Ana College to face the Dons who are also 1 – 1 in conference matchups after beating Riverside College today 10 – 3. The Hornets next game will be on Friday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m.

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