After an eventful three-game series on the road against El Camino in the CCCAA Super Regionals, Fullerton advances to the CCCAA State Tournament.
Game One (Fullerton trailed the series 0-1 to El Camino)
The Hornets had to fight for their spot in the state tournament after dropping the first game against El Camino 3-2.
As the road team, Fullerton was the first at-bat and jumped at the opportunity to add to the scoreboard early. Freshman first baseman Khloe Lilavois would score sophomore catcher Veronica Garza on a fielder’s choice.
However, with runners on first and third base, freshman infielder Sarah Rengifo would strikeout swinging to end the top of the first inning.
After coasting through the first two innings, Hornet freshman pitcher Jessica Lopez would find herself struggling to hold the lead 1-0.
Lopez initially gave a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the third inning to Warrior outfielder Kassidy Robinson. This lead to Robinson stealing second base and scoring off a single to left field that tied the game at 1-1.
Lopez would get out of the inning only allowing one run when the Hornets converted on a double play off a strikeout and a thrown out runner at second base.
In the following inning, El Camino would capitalize on a sequence of events where the Hornets defense made costly mistakes. As a result, the Warriors scored two runs to take a 3-1 lead off an error throw made by the Hornet’s third baseman Rengifo.
With the damage already done, Lopez managed to get the next three Warrior batters out that included back to back strikeouts to end the inning.
With hopes of making a comeback, Fullerton rallied to score a run in the sixth inning when Rengifo singled to left field. This scored sophomore outfielder Kaylee Williamson.
However, with runners in scoring position, the Hornets were not able to tie the game as sophomore outfielder Anabel Mendez would pop out to the third base.
The Hornets last three batters in the seventh inning would all be retired to end game one of the series.
Game Two (Fullerton tied the series at 1-1 with El Camino)
Facing a potential elimination game that would send the Hornets packing, Fullerton battled back from a 4-0 deficit to win 5-4 for game two of the series.
Leading the Hornet’s offensive comeback charge was right fielder Anabel Mendez, who hit two 2-run bombs in the game. Mendez would finish the game with 4 RBIs.
On the mound starting for Fullerton would be ace sophomore pitcher Lulu Vasquez.
Vasquez contributed to the Hornets cause offensively in the opening inning, as she singled in sophomore infielder Sabrina Anguiano to put Fullerton up 1-0.
However, Vasquez was rocked early in the second inning, where she gave up four runs to El Camino. During this inning, Vasquez walked two batters and gave up three hits. Warrior hitters Robinson and Lewis were each able to get 2 RBI hits with two outs against Vasquez in the inning.
Down 4-1, Fullerton was able to stir up some offense in the fourth inning to get back a pair of runs to keep their state tournament dreams alive. It would come after Mendez’s first 2-run home run of the game that scored herself and Rengifo to bring Fullerton within one with the score at 4-3.
Lopez who pitched in the previous game entered for Fullerton in the fifth inning and retired the side.
Then in Mendez’s next at-bat in the sixth inning with Fullerton still down 4-3, she hit her second 2-run home run of the game that was drilled towards center field. As a result, both Mendez and Lilavois scored to put Fullerton up 5-4.
Lopez would close out the last three innings of the game not allowing a single hit or run and would end with three strikeouts to secure Fullerton’s game two victory 5-4. This pushing for a deciding game three to be played right after to determine who moves on to the State Tournament.
Game Three (Fullerton won the series 2-1 over El Camino)
For the last game of the three-game series between Fullerton and El Camino, Fullerton would make yet another comeback to beat El Camino 4-1.
Lopez would power through for the Hornets and pitch again in back to back games where she went the full seven innings. She only gave up one run in the game and struck out five Warrior batters.
El Camino would start the scoring for the game in the third inning. Where Warrior infielder Diamond Lewis hit an RBI single down the left field line to put El Camino in the lead 1-0.
During the sixth and seventh innings, the Hornets came alive as they added four crucial hits to score. However, that was not enough as Fullerton was not able to capitalize on scoring until the last two innings of the game.
Riding off the momentum of beating El Camino earlier in the day and playing behind Lopez’s dominant pitching performance, Fullerton found themselves in the position to control their fate.
With the gift of El Camino’s sloppy defensive performance in the top of the sixth inning, Fullerton was able to score three runs and take the lead.
Fullerton’s initial run during the game-changing inning came off of a Vasquez one-out RBI sac fly to score freshman infielder Clarissa Hernandez. Then Lilavois followed Vasquez’s at-bat with a single up the middle to score in Garza who was on second.
Lilavois also scored as the Warrior’s pitcher made an error throw during Lilavois’ single giving Fullerton the lead at 3-1.
Having a tremendous day at the home plate hitting two 2-run home runs earlier in the day during game two, Mendez would hit a leadoff solo home run to left field.
This put a stamp on the Hornet’s comeback efforts in the series and would secure a game-clinching victory. Mendez’s still on fire, blasted yet another home run which put Fullerton up 4-1 offering Lopez more cushion to work with.
After being shut down all game by Lopez, the Warriors hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh inning. This inning would determine which team would move on to the state tournament.
Unfazed by the pressure of what was at stake for both teams, Lopez got the next two Warrior batters to strikeout swinging. This kept the runner on second.
To cap off her stellar performance all weekend long, Lopez got El Camino’s Robinson to ground out to second and end the game pitching a complete game as Fullerton won 4-1.
Now the Hornets will open up against No. 1 seed San Mateo (41-2 overall) for the CCAA State Tournament on Friday, May 17th at 1:30 pm in Bakersfield College.