Fullerton sweeps College of the Canyons in a two-game series played on back to back days for the first round of the SoCal Regionals and advances to the CCCAA Softball Super Regionals.
Fullerton sophomore infielder Sabrina Anguiano’s 2-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning propelled the Hornets to a 4-2 over College of the Canyons. This was game one of the first round for the SoCal Regional Playoffs on Friday, May 3.
“From the get-go, we had the right energy and intensity coming out to this game. It’s the postseason and we cannot underestimate any opponents no matter what their record is,” Anguiano emphasized.
At the start of the top of the first inning, the Cougars jumped on Hornet sophomore pitcher Lulu Vasquez early. Canyon was able to rack up 3 hits and score 2 runs before Vasquez could settle in. However, with the bases loaded, Vasquez got Canyon’s catcher Valerie Rivas to groundout to the shortstop.
“We took care of business. For the first inning, my mind was all over the place. But then I got rid of the nerves and adjusted to the game plan,” Vasquez explained.
In the bottom of the first inning, Fullerton had a similar inning to Canyon but was only able to get one run on the scoreboard.
That lone run came from Hornet freshman first baseman Khloe Lilavois’ double. This drove in sophomore outfielder Kaylee Williamson who scored from second base.
After Lilavois’ at-bat, freshman infielder Sarah Rengifo drew a walk to loaded the bases with two outs. Although with an opportunity to tie or take the lead, sophomore outfielder Anabel Mendez wasn’t able to drive in any runs. Mendez would ground out to Canyon’s first baseman to end the inning.
From the second through the fourth inning, Vasquez breezed through Canyon’s hitters as she did not allow a hit and only gave up a walk. Because of Vasquez’s pitching performance, Fullerton was in the striking distance still down 2-1.
In efforts to make a comeback, Rengifo drew her second walk of the game to start the bottom of the fourth inning. Then with one out, sophomore outfielder Desiree Guzman hit a single to advance Rengifo to third base. Rengifo had stolen second base before Guzman went up for her at-bat.
When Guzman stole second base, Rengifo scored on an error throw from the Cougars catcher. Now Fullerton were all squared with Canyon at 2-2 in the fourth inning.
Vasquez would pitch a total of 5 innings, giving up only 2 runs on 4 hits. Fullerton freshman pitcher Jessica Lopez would enter the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lopez retired the first three batters she faced and had one strikeout.
For Anguiano’s second hit of the game, she hit a 2-run blast with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Hornets a 4-2 lead. This allowed freshman infielder Natalie Gonzalez to round the corner of second base and score for the Hornet. The inning would end when Vasquez hit into a double play.
“Going against a left-handed pitcher, it was something easier for me to pick up on during my at-bats. In my previous at-bat before the home run, she threw it right down the middle on a 3-0 count. So I told myself to take a hack at it and something will come good at it like my home run,” Anguiano added.
Lopez would secure the Hornets victory of game one, after giving up a single and a walk in the seventh inning. The game would end on a fly out to the second baseman, as Lopez would be credited with the victory.
“Coming into the game tied at two, I just wanted to continue to hold it down and build off Lulu’s performance. The main thing was to keep the score the way it is, so my team would have the chance to get out on top, and that’s what they did,” Lopez vocalized.
Carrying their momentum after an eventful game one, the Hornets looked to build off their 4-2 victory and surge past the Cougars for the Saturday afternoon meeting.
Fullerton’s offensive surge in game two of the SoCal Regionals against College of the Canyons led by Lilavois and Mendez propelled the Hornets to an 8-0 victory.
On the mound for the Hornets was Lopez, who got the victory in game one. Lopez proved again to be one of the best pitchers in the tournament with her efficiency on the mound.
“Bring the same momentum that we had from the first game to the second… Today I wanted to make sure I had a stronger attack as well as be more relaxed to myself,” Lopez stated.
She started the game off by getting the first two Canyon batters to foul out and ground out. Despite having a Canyon player reach on base from an error, Lopez got the next batter to strike out swinging to end the top of the first.
After a sequence of walks from Hornet sophomore catcher Veronica Garza and single from Williamson, Vasquez drove in Garza with an RBI single. Immediately following up in the next at-bat for Fullerton was Lilavois.
Lilavois did not hesitate to drive in two more runs for the Hornets as she hit a single to left field to score Vasquez and Williamson. Now up 3-0, Rengifo singled to advance Lilavois to second base.
Mendez would make amends for her 0 for 3 performance in game one, and drive in Lilavois with a single to put Fullerton up 4-0. However, the inning would come to an end when Mendez was out at second when Gonzalez reached on base from a fielder’s choice.
Lopez would continue her dominance of not allowing a hit and had no Canyon base runner get on from innings two to four. This included a strikeout in each of the innings where two of the batters struck out looking and one struck out swinging.
“After the third inning, I started to have a better approach to my batters,” Lopez added.
With the game in hand, Fullerton made sure to secure their victory by adding more runs in the third and fourth inning. Mendez would have another RBI in the game when she doubled in freshman utility player Hunter Williams who pinched run for Vasquez during the third inning.
Already up 5-0, Fullerton was still hungry for more runs and wanted to end Canyon’s playoff run early. So in the following inning, Lilavois delivered again with a 2 RBIs single to put the Hornets up 7-0.
To cap off her offensive performance, Mendez battled to draw an RBI walk with the bases loaded. Both Lilavois and Mendez would finish the game scoring 7 out of the 8 runs for Fullerton.
“Our team did well today and came out with the momentum to come out on top,” Lilavois stated.
“My mindset was to just try to score the runners on base and do what I can do for my team,” Lilavois added.
To close the game out and cap off a complete game shutout in five innings, Lopez faced some adversity when she allowed two Cougar runners to get on first and second base from two hits. Because she pitched so efficiently throughout the game, Lopez still had plenty in the tank to send Fullerton comfortably into the second round.
As a result, Lopez ended the game by striking out Cougar catcher Valerie Rivas and got Cougar outfielder Natsuki Kameyama to foul out to the catcher. Her final stat line for the game was five complete innings pitched with 6 strikeouts and 0 runs given on 2 hits.
“We came in and did what we had to do. Probably could have scored even more runs, but on to the next round,” Anguiano expressed.
Now Fullerton will go on the road against El Camino in the CCCAA Softball Super Regionals for a three-game series beginning on Friday, May 10 at 2 pm.